Does Your Estate Plan Need To Be Updated?
Estate planning is a “living” legal process. This means that, with very few exceptions, estate planning documentation is meant to be updated and altered as often as the owner of an estate plan’s needs, preferences, and life circumstances evolve. The “living” nature of this legal process helps to ensure that in the event that someone is incapacitated by injury or illness, or in the event that a person dies, the courts can be reasonably confident that a recently updated estate plan accurately reflects the wishes of the estate plan owner.
As a result of this legal structure, it is important to understand that if your estate plan isn’t updated (or reaffirmed) with relative frequency, your loved ones may dispute your wishes or the court may call them into question. In order to better ensure that your estate plan is respected, you’ll need to either update it or reaffirm it as regularly as you are advised to do so by an experienced local estate planning attorney.
When Estate Plans Should Be Updated
As an experienced estate planning lawyer – including those who practice at Yee Law Group, PC – can confirm, an estate plan should—generally speaking—be updated as often as it needs to be in order to ensure the accuracy and comprehensive nature of the wishes described within an estate plan’s documentation.
For example, say that a couple has one child. Their estate plan—including their will and beneficiary designations—explicitly states that all of the couple’s assets should pass to that child in the event that both members of the couple pass away. Then, the couple has another child. If their will and beneficiary designations are not updated to reflect the inclusion of that child as an heir, the courts (and any companies governing accounts attached to beneficiary designations) may question whether the parents intended for all assets to be passed along solely to the oldest child or whether the parents in question simply hadn’t gotten around to adding the second child as a beneficiary. In either event, the fate of the younger child’s ability to inherit will rest with the courts, not with the child’s parents.
Whether your preferences concerning medical care require updates to your advance healthcare directive, a falling out with a loved one has inspired a need to change your child’s guardianship designation, or you’ve purchased property that should newly be addressed in your will, if your estate plan isn’t current, it is time to update it.