Today I’m going to talk about when you should be reviewing your estate planning documents, and your estate plan in general. Estate planning is not a set it and forget it thing, you need to review it periodically. Best case scenario, you review it each year, but hopefully you review it at least each three years, or at a major life event. Think of it like your investment portfolio. You wouldn’t pick a bunch of stocks and meet with a financial advisor once, and never look at your retirement plan again, because as your life changes, you need to change your investment mix. That’s just the way it works.
With estate planning, whatever you set up maybe when you’re 25 or 30 years old, is most likely going to be a lot different than when you’re 35, 40, 45, 40, and as you get later in life, your estate plan might change. You might need to look at it more frequently, because it may change more frequently, with things like Medicaid, health issues, retirement needs. But in any event, you should be looking at your estate plan or renewing it at least at every major life event. This can be a marriage, a divorce, a birth, a child with educational funding needs, you received a large inheritance, your financial picture has changed massively through more borrowing or more money, many of your assets may have went up or down in value, you may have just canceled life insurance, or just got more life insurance.
All of these things are reasons for you to sit down and look at your estate plan, and make sure it still meets your wishes. It could. It often doesn’t need to be changed that often, but you need to be checking it to make sure, because you don’t want to have something happen, and then have your wishes not get fulfilled, or create a total headache for your beneficiaries and your heirs.
If you have questions about this or any other estate planning topic, you can reach out to me by calling my office or by scheduling a consultation online.
William C. Deveneau is an attorney practicing in Southern Vermont, including Bennington and Manchester, and New York, including Albany, Colonie, Hoosick Falls, and Troy.