When to Make Changes to Estate Plans

August 12, 2020

Everybody, regardless of financial standing, age, or marital status, should have an estate plan. An estate comprises of anything that somebody owns, including homes, cars, bank accounts, and investments. No matter how modest or grand someone’s estate may be, an estate plan will ensure that their assets are allocated according to their wishes. In addition to identifying where and to whom one’s belongings should go, an estate plan can also include a last will and testament, an advance healthcare directive, a power of attorney, and information regarding end-of-life planning.

If your loved ones do not have these documents already drawn up, consider urging them to do so immediately. If they already have these documents taken care of, you’re off to a good start. However, experts recommend reviewing estate plans every three to five years, or following any significant life changes.

These are some of the top life events that may require making changes to a senior loved one’s estate plan:

Change of Relationship Status

Your loved one should reassess their estate plan if they have recently gotten married, divorced, or lost their spouse. In the case of marriage, your loved one may want to include their new spouse in their documents and possibly add them as a beneficiary. Your loved one may also want to consider adding a life partner to their plans, even if they do not intend to get legally married. Following divorce or a death, it may be necessary to remove the former spouse and name new beneficiaries.


Estate planning laws vary from state to state. If your loved one is planning to relocate, they should consult an estate planning attorney in the new state to ensure that their documents are compliant with local laws and to safeguard their assets.

Birth of Grandchildren

If your loved one plans to include grandchildren in their estate plans, they should make revisions after the birth of any new grandchild or great-grandchild.

Beneficiary Changes

Your loved one may decide to make changes to their beneficiaries for many reasons. There may be instances when they want to add beneficiaries, in the case of births or marriages mentioned above. Conversely, your loved one may wish to remove someone from their plans or disinherit them. A death, divorce, or other life event may trigger this decision. Furthermore, if any of their beneficiaries have fallen ill or require medical care, they may want to include directions on how that person will be taken care of after their own passing.

Executor or Trustee Changes

The executor or trustee is the person that will be legally responsible for implementing your loved one’s estate plan. In many cases, circumstances may change, requiring your loved one to reconsider their executor or trustee. For example, a chosen executor may become incapacitated or ill-equipped to perform the role. If an executor has passed away, moved far away, or is no longer an integral part of your loved one’s life, it is essential that they update their estate plan.

An estate plan is a dynamic document that should be continually updated to reflect the changes that occur throughout one’s life. Be sure to have conversations with your loved one about their estate plans and don’t be afraid to consult an estate planning attorney if you have questions or concerns. Getting the assistance your loved one needs from an expert in the field will provide you all with peace of mind for the future.

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