Your estate plan is meant to persist after you die and give instructions to others about your final legacy. It will provide information about who will serve as the guardian of any children you have and offer instructions about how to distribute your property after you die.
Some people will create an estate plan in their late 20s or 30s and rely on those documents for the rest of their life. Other people will need to make changes to their last wishes to reflect changes in their life.
What kinds of family changes often lead to updated estate plans?
Marriage or divorce
Spouses combine their households and finances, which means that your spouse is usually the main beneficiary of your estate. When you get married or when your marriage ends, you will typically need to update your estate plan to reflect your marital status and the unique needs of your spouse.
New children in the family
Did you and your spouse have a surprise change-of-life baby when your older children were already in high school? Did your best friend pass away, requiring that you step up as the guardian of their minor children? When you become a parent, one way another, you will likely want to update your estate plan to provide specific protections for the children who depend on you.
An unexpected loss
Parents expect to outlive their children, and people often hope their spouses will live longer than they do. Life is rarely that predictable.
When someone in your inner circle dies, your estate plan may need changes too. If they were your executor or the guardian for your children, you need to name someone else to those positions. If they were a beneficiary, you need to allocate those assets elsewhere.
Updating your estate plan in a timely manner will help protect it against frivolous challenges after your death.