The Importance Of Keeping Your Will And Trust Up-To-Date

Jun 15, 2023

Why Updating Your Will and Trust is Essential for Your Family’s Future

Creating a comprehensive estate plan takes a lot of time and effort, and once it’s complete, you’ll feel a tremendous weight lifted from your shoulders. Securing your legacy is a huge accomplishment, but your estate plan needs room for growth, just like you. Life is full of unexpected changes, and it’s easy to forget to update your estate plan per your wishes.

In this guide, we’ll cover a few reasons why updating your estate plan regularly is so important. We’ll also provide some tips for keeping your will and trust current and discuss the potential consequences of neglecting to do so.

The Role of Estate Planning Law in Your Will and Trust

First, let’s review the basics. Estate planning law handles the legal documentation that outlines how your assets, debts, and liabilities will be distributed after you pass away. This includes your will and trust, typically the core components of your estate plan.

Your will specifies who will inherit your property when you die. It also appoints an executor to oversee the distribution process. Your trust is a separate legal entity that holds your assets for your beneficiaries. It can also help you avoid probate (the legal process of distributing an estate after someone dies).

Life Changes That May Require Updates to Your Will and Trust

As we mentioned earlier, life is full of unexpected changes. Some of the most common reasons to revise your estate plan include:

Growing Family

Family is essential to estate planning, but they’re probably not thinking about how their actions impact your estate. Family dynamics are constantly changing. From the birth of a child to a divorce or death, all of these instances can require an update to your estate.

You may want to believe that your family will understand the oversight, but it’s possible that it can cause hurt or confusion and, in the worst of cases, a legal dispute. Keeping track of a large family may be challenging, but you put in all the work to build it.

If a new family member is born, you may want to include them as a beneficiary. 

Financial Ups and Downs

Like family, finances also sometimes have an unpredictable streak. This can be both good and bad. Financial situations can change significantly over time. An old investment can finally pay off; you could have purchased your dream car, or maybe an accident or illness took a toll on your retirement fund.

Any change to your finances should be reflected in your estate plan. Your estate plan is designed to distribute your assets after your passing, so it’s important to ensure that everything is accounted for and that your loved ones will be protected from potential liabilities.

Tax and Estate Law

Federal and state tax laws are not only changing constantly; they’re guaranteed. Your estate plan must keep up with inheritance and estate tax laws. A change in tax law can impact how much of the estate is subject to taxes or the regulations surrounding trusts. You may need to update your trust to ensure it complies with the new law and limits the tax burden for your beneficiaries.

Changing Values

Although your fundamental values aren’t likely to change much, you can still find a sense of wisdom and peace in a new experience. This can include a new personal philosophy, religion, or political movement that may impact how you want your wishes to be carried out. These deeply personal changes may impact who you name as an executor or what you wish to do with your remains.

The Consequences of Neglecting to Update Your Estate Plan

Many people think that once their will and trust are created, they never have to think about them again. This mistake can have severe consequences for both you and your family. Here are a few examples:

  • Outdated Beneficiary Designations: If you forget to update your beneficiary designations in your will or trust, the wrong person may inherit your assets.
  • Increased Estate Taxes: If you don’t account for any changes in tax law, your beneficiaries may end up paying more in estate taxes than necessary.
  • Legal Challenges: If you don’t update your estate plan after major life events, family members may contest the distribution of your assets, leading to costly legal battles. This can cause unnecessary stress and conflict within your family.

Consult an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney to Safeguard Your Future

All this effort is essential for you and the people you care about. You have worked hard your whole life and care about what happens to your assets after your passing. Outdated estate plans can leave room for ambiguity and create a rift for your loved ones. They may not know how to proceed, which could cause costly disputes.

Regularly updating and maintaining your estate plan is the best way to ensure that your wishes are met and the people you care about are protected. If you want assistance reviewing your estate plan or starting from scratch, our team is here to help. For a consultation, call (503) 928-8664 today.

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