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Updating your will in response to life changes

People make a lot of mistakes when they do their estate planning, but one of the most common ones is that they don't do it often enough. They make the plan, but they fail to update it or look at it again. They simply trust that it's going to work.

It might, but this is a massive risk. Life changes. Things happen. Your estate plan has to reflect that. It needs to be updated.

For instance, maybe you had a two-year-old son when you made your estate plan. You lived close to your sister, so you named her and her husband as the guardians. They were well-off and happily married.

By the time your son's tenth birthday rolls around, their marriage is over. They got divorced. They lost their jobs and spent all of their savings. Your sister's husband had addiction problems and your sister couldn't hold down a job.

Clearly, these are no longer the best people to take care of your child. You know that logically, but you never updated your estate plan to reflect it. If you pass away, who gets the kids?

This is just one example of many. Maybe you lost a lot of assets in the stock market, so everything is out of date. Maybe you started a new business that's not even mentioned in the will. Maybe you got divorced and then remarried, but your estate plan leaves assets to your ex.

The point is simple: Life is not the same. You can't forget about your estate plan. You can't assume it still works. You need to know what steps to take to update it so that it's ready.

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