An estate plan has a sense of finality to it. After all, many of the documents that make up an estate plan only have authority after someone dies. It is, therefore, common for people to feel a sense of stability about their own situation and peace of mind about the needs of their loved ones after they have completed an estate plan.
Having a trust or will already in place takes a lot of the uncertainty out of emergency circumstances. However, even those who have very carefully considered the executor that they name and how they want to distribute their personal property may need to go back and revise their estate planning documents over time. Why do revisions or modifications of wills and other state documents often need to be attended to?
Divorce, remarriage and other family changes
One of the most common reasons for people to update their estate plans is that their marital status changes. When someone gets divorced, they obviously don’t want their ex to have control over their resources when they die or power over their medical care in an emergency. Removing someone from a will and any trust documents, as well as for medical directives and powers of attorney will be important.
People may also need to add a new spouse to their documents or include younger children as beneficiaries when they add members to their families. In cases where people lose a loved one named as a beneficiary or executor, they may have to update the documents following that family tragedy.
Major financial changes
Sometimes, the reason that someone needs to change their estate planning documents is not that their family is different but rather that their circumstances are.
Acquiring new property, selling off a family business and numerous other financial choices could directly affect what someone passes to others in their estate plan. People may need to update their documents to remove assets that they no longer own or to add sizable resources to their estate plans.
Serious health changes
Maybe someone recently lost their spouse and would now be the only form of support for their children. They may want to add advance directives to their estate plan so that they receive assertive medical care and are able to continue providing for their children in the future.
There will also be some people who get diagnosed with a medical condition that drastically alters their personal medical preferences. Knowing that they have an incurable illness, for example, might change what kind of treatment someone would willingly undergo.
When people understand the common reasons that might inspire a need to update an estate plan, they will have an easier time recognizing when they need to make some changes themselves. Revisiting estate planning documents with the assistance of a legal professional can help people to better protect their own interests and their loved ones.