There’s no “use by” date on estate plans, but after several years, changes in laws and lives make most estate plans obsolete.
Even if you live in a bubble and absolutely nothing in your life has changed since the last time your estate plan was created, which is highly unlikely, it is still subject to changes that make it out-of-date.
As the Nevada Appeal’s article “Is your estate plan obsolete?” reminds us, the only thing that is constant is change, and likewise, your estate plan may need to be modified in light of some changes. There will also be changes in the tax codes, new regulations, and court decisions to note regarding their effect on your estate plan. Plus, think about all of those who will need to be involved with your estate, such as guardians, trustees, executors, and agents. Their lives and circumstances may have also changed.
Due to low interest rates and lower interest income, some estate plans now provide a surviving spouse with more than just income. If the spouse is left with only income, it might mean he or she doesn’t have sufficient money on which to live. Your estate planning documents instead might provide either a percentage of the total assets or a fixed dollar amount (possibly adjusted for inflation) to be paid from income, capital gains and/or principal, not just income.
A healthcare power of attorney might need to be reviewed for compliance with HIPAA, so your family or agent can to talk and work with your doctors on medical issues. In addition, a change in your life like marriage, divorce, or the death of a spouse are important changes that might make you want to alter your estate plan. Similarly, the change in the marital status of a child or other beneficiary might also mean you need to review your plan with your estate planning attorney.
Other changes that will impact your estate plan are changes in your own health or that of a family member. Perhaps your interests have changed and a charitable organization you once supported whole-heartedly is no longer central to your values. Or maybe there has been a change in the status of relatives you used to support. In other words, if there have been changes in your life, you’ll want to update your estate plan.
Reference: Nevada Appeal (October 11, 2016) “Is your estate plan obsolete?”