Many testators assume that once they draft their will, they can put it away for safekeeping and never revisit it again. It’s risky if you do, though.
Your assets can change, and so can fondness for your beneficiaries. Your assets may go to an unintended someone, or your documents may not reflect nuances in the law unless you regularly update them.
Estate plan details to review at different life stages
It’s a good rule of thumb to review your will every few years. You should check all other estate planning documents at the same time. You may need to draft a few additional documents depending on where you are in your life.
- Young adulthood: Your parents no longer have control over you, your possessions and your choices once you turn 18. The sentimental, digital or monetary assets you might have at this age may have value. A fight may ensue unless you have a will that dictates who they should go to.
- Upon landing your first job: Your financial means are likely to grow as you take on your first job. You’ll want to earmark someone as a recipient of those funds and beneficiary designations for your 401(k) and insurance plans if something happens to you.
- Upon marriage and divorce: You may want to change your heirs to your spouse and also appoint them with joint tenancy with rights of survivorship to make inheriting your marital home more seamless if you prematurely pass away. You may want to reverse these steps if you divorce.
- When you have children: You’ll want to perhaps list your child as a beneficiary of your estate, set up a trust to provide for them and appoint them a guardian soon after their birth if something happens to you.
It is important to readdress your estate plan anytime you experience a significant increase in income, someone close to you passes away and as you near retirement. A move to another state should warrant you doing the same as it may be valid in one jurisdiction but not another.
Determining when you should reassess your will
Drafting a will is one step in the estate planning process but is only effective if it aligns with your preferences and applicable laws. Our website’s multitude of resources can help you gain a firmer understanding of estate planning so that you’ll know which decisions are right for you.