When to Update My Estate Plan

Is it time to update your Estate Plan.


There are two major mistakes in Estate Planning. The first is failing to have a plan at all; the second is failing to update it. Since no one has the crystal ball to forecast when your time will come, your plan should always be reflect your current circumstances, wishes and desires. Since life so fluid, these three elements are constantly shifting. As a matter of course, I always check in with my clients every three years to ensure that their plan is updated and adapted to their current situation as well as address any changes in the law. By way of example, thanks to Trump, our current Federal Estate Tax Exemption is $11.4M per person. That means you can own property up to $11.5M without being subject to an estate tax. However, that is supposed to sunset back to $5M (indexed for inflation) in 2026. Compare this to not too long ago when the exemption was only $2M. (In Massachusetts by the way, this number is only $1M. Thanks Taxachusetts!) 

See, changes all around. In life and in law. Here are some key indicators of when it may be time to glance again at that old Estate Plan. (And you thought you checked that box off, eh?)

1. Your assets or liabilities change.

Whether your assets have increased or decreased, you probably will want to revisit your plan to ensure that whatever you have is properly being divided. If you’ve sold a business or purchased property, this warrants review since the composition of your Estate will has also shifted.

2. Your children have gotten older.

Perhaps they have shown to be financially responsible enough to handle an inheritance; or the reverse so that they should not have full access to a large amount of funds should something happen to you. Or maybe they can now serve as guardians for any minor children, or better yet, serve as your successor Trustee or alternative Health Care Proxy.

3. Your trustees and/or executors are no longer appropriate.

This is probably the key reason I see folks requesting a change to their plan. Their mother has aged too much to handle the responsibility, or their sister-in-law moved out of state. The possibilities are endless. People come in and out of our lives. Some remain qualified, others not so much.

4. Your retirement or life insurance beneficiaries are not updated.

Your beneficiary forms, people! Let’s update those to ensure that the people who should be receiving your money would actually receive it. Huge rule: never name a minor (under 18 years old) as a beneficiary or the assets will have to go through the court process called probate. 

This article is a service of 20West Legal, LLC, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.