The Importance of Updating Your Estate Plan

May 5, 2022 | Estate Planning & Administration

Taking the time to ensure your estate planning documents are accurate and up to date is equally as important as establishing an initial estate plan. Circumstances change over your lifetime and your estate planning documents should be updated as needed to reflect those changes to be sure your wishes will be properly carried out.

Whether you simply need to update your will or wish to create or amend a trust for asset protection purposes or to determine guardianship of minor children in the event of both parents’ deaths, it is important to have a customized plan and strategy in place to preserve family harmony and avoid conflict.

Other important documents to consider include power of attorney(s). A healthcare or financial power of attorney can give the individual(s) you select the authority to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated. Alternatively, advance directives (e.g., a living will or do-not-resuscitate (DNR)) help guide the specific decisions of doctors and caregivers if you become incapacitated and incapable of expressing your wishes regarding your medical treatment. In these instances, planning for the unimaginable may help avoid unnecessary guilt and stress and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during unexpected medical emergencies.

Review your estate planning documents at least every three years. (Consult an attorney to discuss any changes to federal and state laws and the impact on your plan.) It is especially important to review your documents with your attorney when you have had important life events, such as the birth of a child or grandchild, adoption, a child with special needs approaching majority age, marriage, divorce, a significant change in wealth, health diagnosis, or retirement.

When reviewing your estate planning documents, remember to also review named beneficiaries annually for brokerage accounts, savings accounts, 401(k)s, ROTHs, or any other types of retirement accounts. Accurate beneficiary designations will ensure assets pass directly to the person(s) you choose and simplify the transfer process since these asset types can often be designated to pass separately from the instructions in a will.

It is important to consult an estate planning professional who can help you develop a strategy for your estate plan that is right for you and your family’s specific circumstances. Cumberland Trust, as corporate trustee, along with your chosen team of professional advisors, will work together to ensure your plan is tailored to your needs and your family’s wealth and legacy are preserved.