Planning for end-of-life isn’t fun for anyone. But, if you already have an estate plan in place, you’re far ahead of the curve. Just four of every 10 adults in the U.S. have an estate planning document like a will or trust.

Once they’re complete, it’s all too easy to put your estate planning documents aside somewhere safe and forget about them entirely. As tempting as this may be, it’s essential that your estate plan remains up to date with any major events that your life may bring.

For this reason, it’s recommended that you review your documents with your estate planner every three to five years – or sooner if you’ve had some big changes.

Reasons to update your estate

There are countless reasons why you may want to review and update your last wishes. However, some of the most common events that motivate estate planning revisions include:

  • Children: Any new additions to the family – whether a biological child, adopted child, stepchild or grandchild – will often encourage people to revise their documents to specify their children as beneficiaries.
  • Marriage and Divorce: If you’ve recently said, “I do,” you’ll want to include your spouse in your estate plan to ensure they are taken care of. What’s more, is if you’ve parted ways with an ex-spouse, you’ll need to update your estate to remove a beneficiary. If you remarry, that will require an update too.
  • Moving out of state: Because estate planning laws aren’t national, you’ll need to update your estate if you relocate to a new state to guarantee they aren’t ineffective.
  • Changes to laws: Laws are also subject to change even if you don’t move, so any changes in legislation will require review with your estate planner.
  • Changes in assets: Whether your estate’s value has increased or decreased, you’ll want to go over how you divided your property and if the plan is still appropriate under the circumstances. This is also true if you have acquired or sold a large asset.
  • Removing beneficiaries: Outside of divorce, there are circumstances in which you may wish to remove someone from your estate plan. They may have moved or passed away, or perhaps they are no longer a good fit for their role. Any changes to the people you have appointed will merit a review.

In keeping on top of your estate plan, you can ensure you protect your legacy and loved ones no matter what life throws your way.