Estate planning can occur at any point in someone’s adult life, and earlier planning is usually beneficial. For many adults, getting married or having kids are the life events that prompt them to draft wills. They want to protect the people they love and control what happens to their property when they die. They may also create living documents that take effect during a possible future incapacitation.
Once someone has estate planning paperwork in place, they might assume that those documents will serve their purpose indefinitely. However, quite a few people find that they must revise estate planning documents eventually. Many experts recommend reviewing existing estate planning paperwork every three to five years or after major life events.
Why are regular updates to estate plans so important?
Outdated documents can cause probate issues
The simplest reason that people need to frequently review and occasionally update estate planning documents is to keep them as accurate as possible. A will that someone drafted decades ago can remain valid for the rest of their life. However, the chances are good that their personal resources and relationships will change as the years pass.
Family members and other presumptive beneficiaries could contest someone’s will or challenge their estate plan in probate court by claiming that the documents are inaccurate. For example, if someone names their two oldest children in their will but does not leave anything for their youngest child, the excluded child could contest the will by claiming that their omission from the documents was an oversight.
The longer someone goes without updating their documents, the more vulnerable they may be to future legal action. When a will or other testamentary document includes deceased beneficiaries or assets that someone liquidated years ago, their estate plan is more vulnerable to challenges from those with an interest in the estate.
If someone wants their family members to accept their last wishes and hopes to prevent conflict related to their estate, they will likely need to frequently update their documents to keep them as accurate as possible. Realizing that estate planning is an ongoing process may help people avoid mistakes and oversights that might cause their loved ones issues after they die.