From wills and trusts to advance care directives, your estate plan offers protections and provisions for yourself and your loved ones. As you age, your family dynamic changes, or your list of assets grows, your estate plan should adapt to continually reflect your wishes. Here are key considerations when amending your estate plan.

When to Update Your Estate Plan

You may wish to review your estate plan every few years, or even every year. However, there are certain life milestones and changes that call for a more thorough review, including:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • New pets
  • New retirement account
  • Purchase of real estate or vehicles

These circumstances may change the beneficiaries in your plan or the way in which you wish funds to be allocated during your life or after your death. Rather than rewriting the entire document, you can make these amendments through what’s called a codicil. A codicil must be signed by two witnesses, and signed by a notary if a self-proving affidavit is attached. We can help walk you through this process.

Keep Your Digital Records Organized

After you die, closing your digital accounts is just as important as closing the rest of your estate, as this can help prevent identity theft and other forms of fraud. Your digital assets may include online financial accounts, work-related tools, and lifestyle apps. Maintaining organized records of usernames and passwords throughout your life can help streamline the process of closing them down the road.

However, your will or trust is not the right place to store this information, because wills in particular become public record. But you can designate in your will or trust who you’d like to manage your digital accounts after your death. Just make sure your representative knows how to access this information.

From streaming services to fitness apps, it’s common for many individuals to create a host of new online accounts each year. While you don’t need to update your estate plan every time you open a new account or change your password, it’s helpful to keep all of this information in one place and regularly updated. This may look like a secure file in your cloud storage, a document stored safely with your estate attorney, or a password manager tool.

Remember Your Advance Care Directives

You may also wish to make updates to advance care directives such as your healthcare surrogate or power of attorney (POA) documents. You should definitely review these documents if you’ve received a serious diagnosis that will affect you physically or mentally – for example, cancer or dementia – but it can also be helpful to assess these designations as you age, your business grows, or if you’re planning an international trip.

Additionally, your healthcare decisions may change over time as new treatments and technologies emerge. For example, new medical developments may change your views on pain management or hospice care. We recommend speaking with a healthcare professional before creating or updating such documents.

Remember, as long as you are of sound mind to do so, you also have the right to change your personal representative, healthcare surrogate, or POA throughout your life. Relationships and circumstances change, and it’s critical to have trustworthy individuals appointed for these roles. 

If you’ve created an estate plan with us, our team is available to review and update your plan with you. If you’re ready to establish an estate plan, it’s never too soon to get started.