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When to update your estate plan

Making an estate plan is a good first step, but it is just that: a first step. Don't think that you're done for good. You still need to update that plan frequently to make sure that it's ready if your family ever needs it.

A way to begin is to pick a certain number of years and commit to frequent updates. For instance, you could go over the plan every three to five years.

However, you also want to look for big life changes that mean it's time to update things, no matter how long it has been since you did it the last time. Some events include:

  • Having a child
  • Adopting a child
  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced
  • Having children turn 18 and/or go to college
  • Moving to another state
  • Moving to another country
  • Landing a new job
  • Having a health scare
  • Getting a medical diagnosis
  • Retiring from your job
  • Becoming the primary caretaker for someone else, such as an elderly parent
  • Having a life insurance policy expire
  • Getting a new policy
  • Buying a home
  • Selling a home
  • Starting a business
  • Selling a business
  • Buying any other major asset
  • Losing a loved one, such as a spouse or a child
  • Having a falling out with close family members
  • Discovering a new charity that you love

All of these things -- and more -- can impact your estate plan and what you need it to do. It may still work the way that it is, but these events tell you to take a look at it, consider what goals you have and find out about the legal steps you need to take to make those goals happen.

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