Hugh J. M. Jones, III, P.C. Hugh J. M. Jones, III, P.C.
Lynchburg Law Firm

If there's one thing that you should know about estate planning, it's that it's never too early for you to do it. While it's a good rule of thumb to revisit your plans every few years to make sure that it continues to reflect your preferences, you'll also want to update your estate plan even more frequently if life circumstances change.

New chapters in life

You'll want to sit down and reassess your estate plan any time that there's a new birth, marriage, divorce or death in the family as this may affect your preferences. By doing so, you're able to minimize the risk of lawsuits on down the line as well.

It's commonplace for a newly married individual to want to add their spouse as a beneficiary to their estate. At the same time, someone who recently got divorced may want to remove their ex's name so that the ex-spouse no longer inherits. You may even need to change who you have appointed the executor of your estate if that person has relocated or passed away.

Relocation out of state

Another prime time to revisit and update your estate plan is when you move to a new state. You'll want to do this as the legal requirements for wills and health care proxies aren't uniform across the nation. If you fail to update either of those when you move, then you risk not having those valuable protections in place.

Changes in financial circumstances

If your assets or liabilities significantly increase or decrease or if the bulk of your wealth lies in a single piece of real estate or business, you may want to review your estate plan. Make sure that it continues to reflect your wishes for how those assets should be divided up.

It can be helpful for you to review the beneficiary documents for your retirement plan, life insurance policy or annuities on a regular basis to ensure that your beneficiary designations continue to be aligned with your current wishes.

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 40 percent or less of Americans have wills or estate plans in place. Many wait until it's too late to try to draft these end-of-life documents. An estate planning attorney who has experience handling both large and small estates can make sure that you have the protection you need for the future.

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