How Often Should You Review Your Estate Documents

Becky Cholewka: One of my most frequently asked questions is, how often do I actually need to review my documents? I always tell people a couple of different things.

Number one. There’s something that you should do each year to your estate planning documents. Pull out your binder, your folder, or wherever you keep them, and I just want you to review who you have put into place as your decision makers, and how and who you’re leaving your money to.

Just see if that’s still what you want, if it still meets your current estate planning goals. Only you can make that decision, and only you will know if your documents need to be amended, if your goals have changed.

Number two. I always like to recommend that people pull out their binder whenever they have a life event whether that is a birth, a death, a divorce. Maybe you now have grandchildren, and you want to provide for them. Any big life event that happens, just pull that binder out again, really quickly just review who is in there, and how you’re leaving your money.

Make sure that that hasn’t changed as well due to this life event. Maybe you have left your sister, for example, as your back‑up healthcare power of attorney, but now your sister has Alzheimer’s, and she can no longer act in that role for you. Any major life event, also pull out your binder, just take a quick five‑minute review, and make sure it still meets your needs and goals.

The third thing is I always encourage people to go meet with their estate planning attorney, at least every two to three years. You’re going to want to make sure that they review it with a legal point of view, to make sure that there’s no current either state or federal rules that have changed that will require an update or an amendment to your document.

Here in Arizona, all of our laws changed in this area, January 1st, 2009. If your documents are at least in Arizona prior to then, they are really out of date from a legal perspective.

At this point, that’s actually been eight years, so that would make sense that in eight years there’s probably going to be some laws that have changed that you’re going to need to make sure to address in your documents.

Make sure that you remember documents. Even though you’ve done them one time, it does not mean that is the only time you need to review your documents. You as well as your attorney should be looking them over every year or two.

Have a nice day.

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