Having an estate plan can bring reassurance to you and direction to your surviving loved ones. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is forgetting to update your plan over time.
Changes throughout your life may impact your end-of-life wishes and your relationships. Verifying that these changes reflect in your plan can keep everything relevant even as your life progresses.
One of the most common updates you may need to make involves beneficiary designations. Events including divorce, remarriage, death, the birth of children or grandchildren, adoption and business ownership could impact your relationships. Reviewing and updating beneficiary designations will prevent the disappointment of your assets ending up with someone you no longer have a relationship with.
Even if your beneficiary designations stay the same, you should also periodically check that certain assets will effectively pass to desired beneficiaries. For example, according to U.S. News, some assets require specific documentation for them to effectively pass from you to your spouse if you die. For example, pay careful attention to your home title to verify that it names both you and your spouse as beneficiaries.
Because your opinions can change, you may not feel the same way about aspects of your estate plan as you did years ago. A verbal declaration of your updated wishes does not guarantee those changes. Periodically reviewing your estate plan can help you identify areas where you want to add clarification, change the context or refine the legacy you want to leave behind.
An updated estate plan may reduce family discord after your death. Presenting your loved ones with a clearly written plan can give them comfort knowing they have executed everything according to your desires.