When to Modify Your Estate Plan?

So, you know that having an estate plan is valuable, but do you know how often you need to update it once it's established? Regularly reviewing and updating your estate plan is how you ensure it reflects your current circumstances and wishes.

You should plan to review and update your estate plan every five (5) years or when you experience a significant life event.

At Nelson, Taylor & Associates, we understand the importance of aligning your estate documents with both Utah state law and your goals. Please keep reading to learn how to identify when it's time to update your estate plan and how to take practical steps toward modifications.

Life Events Triggering an Estate Plan Review

Major life events can significantly alter your personal and financial situation. Reviewing your estate plan in light of these changes ensures that your assets are distributed according to your current wishes and that any new family members are appropriately included or addressed. Doing so can also ensure that any changes in how you want your end-of-life care managed are recorded.

Examples of major life changes that could instigate an estate plan update include:

  • Birth of children: An estate plan should be reviewed to include provisions for new family members, potentially establishing trusts or guardianship directives.
  • Marriage or divorce: Changes in marital status can drastically affect your estate planning, including beneficiary designations and power of attorney assignments.
  • Homeownership changes: Buying or selling property necessitates adjustments in how your assets are handled within your estate.
  • Asset fluctuations: Significant shifts in your financial situation should prompt a re-evaluation of your estate distribution method.
  • Passing of connected individuals: The death of a beneficiary, trustee, or power of attorney requires immediate attention to your plans.

Essential Estate Planning Documents to Review

Estate planning is more than just preparing for the allocation of assets; it's a comprehensive approach to managing your medical, legal, and financial affairs during and beyond your lifetime. So, where do you start when it comes to updating your estate plan?

We recommend you review any documents directly associated with the change and then move on to your foundational documents.

Foundational estate planning documents include:

  • Wills: Make certain that your will accurately conveys your desires for asset distribution and care of minor children.
  • Trusts: Review and amend trust documents to comply with your current goals and tax regulations.
  • Advance directives: Update to reflect your current health care preferences.
  • Powers of attorney: Revise your designated individuals to confirm they are still willing and able to act in your best interest.

The Process of Updating Your Estate Plan

Recognizing the need for an update is just the first step. Making those changes legally effective is where a qualified attorney comes in. If you are ready to update your estate plan, we encourage you to consult with our team during the process. Making these modifications with the guidance of an experienced attorney like ours can give you peace of mind.

Steps for estate plan modification:

  1. Assessment: Conduct an inventory of your current estate planning documents and assess necessary changes.
  2. Consultation: Contact one of our trusted attorneys at Nelson, Taylor & Associates, who are well-versed in Utah estate law.
  3. Implementation: Work with your attorney to draft amendments for each document needing updates, such as codicils for your will, or draft entirely new documents as required.
  4. Execution: Follow Utah legal procedures for signing and witnessing the new or amended documents to ensure their validity.
  5. Notification: Inform relevant parties, like executors or trustees, about the updates to your estate plan.

Remember, an outdated estate plan can lead to misunderstandings, legal battles, and unintended disbursement of your assets. Your estate plan is a living document meant to evolve as your life does. The attentive team at Nelson, Taylor & Associates is here to consult and guide you through every life transition, aligning your estate plan with your present circumstances.

Send us a message online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.