Once you’ve created your initial estate plan, the question then becomes, “How often must I review my estate planning documents?” There is no simple answer.
You must, of course, always review your documents if Congress makes substantive changes in the estate planning laws. Other factors that suggest reviewing your planning include:
Change in Family. The death of a spouse or child should always prompt a review of your documents. The birth of a child or a grandchild may necessitate a change.
Change in Marital Status. A marriage, divorce, or separation should always prompt a review of your documents.
Relocation to Another State. If you move permanently to another state, your existing documents should always be reviewed to make sure that they work in your new state of residence. Some documents may be state language specific.
Change in Assets. If the value or composition of your assets changes significantly, then your estate plan needs to be reviewed. This is also true if you receive a significant inheritance.
Change in Health. All people plan their estates with the assumption that they will live for a long period of time. If your doctor tells you that your time is short, have your estate plan reviewed immediately.
Change in Beneficiaries. If either a beneficiary falls out of your favor or you want to name a new beneficiary, your documents will need to be changed.
Even if none of the above reasons are present, it is always a good idea to have your documents and your assets reviewed approximately every five years. Failure to make sure that your documents work with your current assets and in accordance with current law can cost your family far more in taxes than the cost of updating your documents.
Always make sure that your estate planning documents are current to reflect your intentions and desires.
REMEMBER: If you want to make changes or update your Will, you must always create a new Will and resign your new Will with the required witnesses and notary. You should NOT make changes by crossing out things in your Will or writing things in. The same goes for your power of attorney and health care documents.