Dear Generations Law Group: Should I Be Updating My Estate Plan?

Dear Generations Law Group,
I’ve been updating my Naughty and Nice List and checking it twice. This got me to wondering, “Should I be updating my Estate Plan too?”
Yours Truly,
Kris Kringle

Dear Mr. Kringle,

Thank you for your letter and question!

You started off on the right path by creating an estate plan. We applaud you for recognizing that an estate plan is not something you put on your shelf to gather dust like an old Christmas toy.  To be sure that your estate plan is really working for you, it requires regular monitoring and attention. A periodic review will ensure that your plan stays current with your life goals, and that it conforms to any changes in Massachusetts law.

In general, it’s a good idea to thoroughly review your plan if there’s a significant change in your health, financial assets or family composition, such as divorce, death of a spouse or in the event of the death of a beneficiary.  Depending on your situation, a yearly review may be needed as laws, such as those effecting taxes, may change.

Some other reasons that you would require periodic review include:

  • Your priorities or who is important in your life has changed.
  • Your spouse or a family member has become disabled, incapacitated, or has passed away.
  • There has been a change in your marital status. While Massachusetts law will revoke those sections related to a former spouse, people such as former in-laws named in your estate plan will not be revoked.
  • Additions to your family through birth, adoption, or second marriages (stepchildren).
  • An adult child you suspect might experience a divorce, has already gone through one or has creditor problems.
  • There has been a substantial change in your assets holdings or have received a sizable inheritance or gift.
  • You are planning or have already retired.
  • One of your named agents, such as, a trustee, guardian for your children, healthcare proxy, or personal representative, has changed his or her mind about serving in that capacity.
  • To remind yourself as to how your plan will operate if you become incapacitated or upon your death.

As you can see, there are many reasons why you may need to make timely updates to your estate plan.  The last thing you would want is for your plan to fail for your family – and not making a timely update could result in you being put on someone else’s Naughty list.