Procrastination is one of the most common issues for testators who want to have control over their estates. There are countless reasons why someone could wait another week or another six months to draft estate planning documents, and those delays could lead to tragic family outcomes.
If you have already taken the step of creating an estate plan, then you have done more than many people to protect those that you love and yourself if you die or have a medical emergency. Simply creating those documents isn’t enough. You likely need to continue reviewing and updating those documents for the rest of your life.
What happens if you don’t review estate documents frequently?
They might contradict each other
If you have occasionally made small changes to specific estate planning documents but have not done a thorough review of your full plan, there could be real issues with your estate plan. When documents contradict each other, you may have an unrealistic expectation for what will happen during estate administration.
For example, perhaps when you first took your job and filled out paperwork for a life insurance policy provided by your employer, you named your spouse as your life insurance beneficiary. However, you have since had children and gotten divorced. You updated your will to name your children as your beneficiaries. If you don’t also review and update your life insurance beneficiary designations, your ex might receive your insurance payout instead of your children.
Your estate could be at risk of a challenge
When your estate documents are obviously outdated, family members and beneficiaries will have a much easier time raising a claim that your documents are not valid.
If you include a deceased family member among your beneficiaries or a home that you sold 20 years ago among the assets to distribute, family members might convince the courts to discard your estate plan because it is outdated and inaccurate. The more frequently you review and update your documents, the less likely there are to be conflicts between different documents or mistakes that will affect the enforceability of your plan.
Frequently reviewing and updating estate planning documents will ensure you retain control over your legacy when you die.