One of the most common estate planning mistakes is the failure to draft a will or other documents because you assume you have time in the future. Many well-intentioned people experience unfortunate circumstances because they or a loved one kept delaying the creation of their estate plan.
Procrastination is only one significant estate plan failure. Failing to update your estate plan can also be a major issue. Why is it so important for you to continue to review and update your estate plan after you create it?
Your life and family will constantly continue to change
A well-crafted estate plan usually includes a combination of documents that address your death and others that can help in the event of your medical incapacitation. There will be documents that designate certain people as the recipients of your assets and documents that give people the authority to handle financial or medical matters on your behalf.
It is better to have those documents in place than to have nothing at all, but outdated documents can be a real risk. The first and most obvious concern is that if the person you name in your power of attorney has died, there won’t be anyone to handle your medical and financial needs during your incapacitation.
Another issue with outdated estate documents is that you don’t want people who have since left your family, possibly through divorce or estrangement, having authority over you or access to your estate. Regularly checking and updating your estate planning document helps to ensure that they are as accurate and thorough as possible.
Inaccurate documents increase your risk of the challenge
If you have outdated or obviously inaccurate estate documents, it might be easier for a contentious family member to challenge your last wishes for their benefit.
Frequently updating your estate plan will make it easier for your loved ones to enforce your wishes if someone tries to challenge them. Regularly paying attention to your legacy will also make it clear that you have strong preferences and have acted to protect those wishes, which can be another deterrent to frivolous challenges.
Understanding that estate planning works best when you revisit the process occasionally can help you optimize the protections you have in place for yourself and your family.