Creating an estate plan is important for every adult. But making one is only the first step in defining and protecting your legacy.
You will also want to update an estate plan to preserve your wishes and prevent legal disputes, especially after the following events:
- You get married. After marriage, you want to be sure your plans line up with your new legal partnership. Updating your estate plan to include your spouse and other parties joining your family can be wise.
- You get divorced. You likely do not want an ex to make decisions for you or collect an inheritance after a divorce. Thus, you can revise your estate plan to ensure an ex is not part of it if you divorce.
- A beneficiary passes away. If a sibling, parent or child passes away, it could change how you wish to distribute your assets. It could also mean naming someone else to act in roles you assigned to them.
- You welcome a child into your family. Expanding your family with children and grandchildren can require adjustments to trusts and inheritance amounts.
- You experience a significant change in your assets. A windfall or dramatic loss of income and financial resources can significantly impact your planning strategies and goals.
- You buy or sell a property. If an executor has an outdated list of properties, there can be confusion and delays. Thus, updating your estate plan when your property holdings change is wise.
- You and a family member are estranged or reconcile. Family relationships change over time. If you do not update your estate plan to reflect estrangement or reconciliation with a loved one, their treatment during administration may not match your relationship.
- You haven’t reviewed your plan for several years. Even if nothing significant has changed in a few years, revisiting it from time to time can be wise – especially considering laws can change over time.
- You move. Estate laws and practices vary between provinces and countries. Thus, updating your plans after moving to or out of British Columbia can avoid jurisdictional and geographical issues.
When you update your will and other documents after these events, you ensure that your estate plan continues to align with your wishes, beliefs and circumstances. And this can make it easier for loved ones to navigate the legal process on your behalf during tumultuous times.