Completing your estate plan is an important and commendable step in ensuring financial security for your family in the future. But it is not the last step. In fact, without regular check-ins and updates, your plan can become out-of-date and unable to do the things you expect — and need — it to do for yourself and your loved ones.
In general, it’s a smart idea to read over your estate planning documents every three years or so. Or sooner, if one of the following has happened in the meantime:
- You moved to another state (which may have different probate laws than your old state)
- You have gotten divorced, remarried, and/or had new children or grandchildren join the family
- The value of your major assets have changed, or you have bought or sold a big asset (such as a house)
- The person or people you have designated as your personal representative or trustee of your estate have died, are no longer in your life, or are no longer able to handle the responsibility
Similarly, you should review the designated beneficiaries on your life insurance policy and retirement plans to make sure you still want those people to collect after you pass away.
Why doing it yourself is risky
Making amendments to your will or other estate planning documents is not necessarily difficult, but Massachusetts law sets out a specific procedure for doing so. If you do not follow it exactly, the probate court might not honor your changes after you are gone. The best way to avoid a hidden error is to work with your estate planning attorney.