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When should I update or review my estate planning documents?

People who read our blog often know how important it is to have estate planning documents in place just in case something happens to them. What not everyone realizes is that wills and other documents should be checked fairly often just to ensure those documents are still up to date. It isn't enough to write out a will and then forget it exists. Our Texas readers might be interested in these guidelines regarding updating a will or other estate planning documents.

How often should I update my will?

Generally speaking, you should update your will at least every three to five years. This, of course, is a basic guideline that does have some exceptions. If other events in your life significantly change your family dynamic or financial status, you should update your will.

What changes in family dynamics require an updated will?

Changes in family dynamics like getting married, getting divorced and having a child are all reasons to update your will. You should also update your will if you have a child who turns 18 years old or if you adopt a child. In some cases, having grandchildren might trigger the need to update a will.

Do I update the will if an heir passed away?

You would need to update your will if an heir passed away. This gives you the option of reallocating the assets you left to that heir.

When does asset value necessitate an updated will?

If you have purchased or sold significant assets, you should reevaluate your will. The same thing is true if the value of your assets goes up or down significantly.

Are there any other triggers for updating a will?

Your will should be updated when you reach retirement so you can ensure your retirement accounts and other accounts are properly handled. You also need to update your will as laws change. Keeping on top of changing laws can be difficult, so having someone on your side who keeps up with these changes is a good idea.

Source: FindLaw, "Checklist: Reasons to Update Your Will & Estate Planning Documents" Oct. 02, 2014

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