How Often Do You Need to Update Your Estate Plan

Many people make the mistake of letting their estate plan sit. Yet, life happens, and you may need to make changes to it that reflect your current circumstances. By knowing when and why you must update your estate plan, you can manage it from a position of strength.

Making major updates

Revising your estate plan after every small life change is unnecessary. Unless yours accounts for small, specific details, updating it when major life events happen will be satisfactory. These events may include:

  • Marriage, divorce or remarriage on your part
  • Moving states
  • The birth or death of a loved one
  • The death of the appointed trustee or executor
  • Changes in your assets or liabilities
  • Changes to the tax code

Making regular updates

Barring major life events, revising your estate plan once every five years will help you ensure its provisions are current. The exception to this rule is if you are married and you and your spouse formed an AB trust long ago. If you two have significant assets, this arrangement allows you to hold your assets in a revocable marital trust during your lifetimes. After you or your spouse die, your individual share of assets would transfer to an irrevocable bypass trust to avoid the estate tax. Yet, federal exemption rates are much higher than before, making AB trusts unnecessary for many couples. If your estate’s value exceeds the current exemption rate, keeping your AB trust may make sense. You will want to revisit it more frequently than other estate arrangements, though, due to changing tax codes. But if you desire an arrangement that requires less attention, AB trusts remain revocable while both you and your spouse are alive.

Not every life event merits a change to your estate. But by knowing which ones do, you can remain diligent about protecting your assets for the future. An attorney with estate planning experience can help you work through any complications that arise.


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