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What sorts of things can cause an estate plan to be out of date?

Sometimes, over time, things go out of date. For some things, having an out-of-date version of the thing is generally just a minor inconvenience. For other things though, having an out-of-date version can be remarkably negatively impactful.

Estate plans are something that fall into the latter category. Having out-of-date estate planning documents (like an out-of-date will) can be very problematic. For one, an out-of-date estate plan may no longer be in tune with the wishes of the person who formed it. Also, in some cases, an out-of-date estate plan's documents might not even be valid anymore.

There are many different things that could cause an estate plan to become out of date. Here are some examples:

  • Major changes in a person's life. Big events in a person's life, like divorce, marriage, the birth of a child or a major financial event, can greatly change what a person would want their estate plan to do.
  • Major changes in the lives of a person's loved ones. There are many different things that can affect what sorts of things a person may want to leave their loved ones in their estate plan. Thus, when big changes happen in their loved ones' lives (like big financial changes), it could impact what exactly a person wants to do regarding gifts to loved ones in their estate plan.
  • Law changes. Changes in state or federal law can sometimes affect how appropriate a given estate plan would be for achieving a person's estate planning goals or what sorts of issues can arise in connection to estate planning. Recently, a Forbes article went over some federal law changes that have occurred over the past several years that can have estate planning implications. Some examples of such federal law changes include federal estate tax law changes and HIPAA law changes.
  • Gradual changes in a person's wishes, preferences and views.

Thankfully, when a person's estate plan is out of date, they do not simply have to stick with their out-of-date plan. Estate plans can be updated.

Attorneys can help individuals who are concerned that their estate plan may be out of date with looking over their estate plan to see if it is still properly suited for what they want the estate plan to do. Attorneys can also help individuals who have out-of-date-estate plans with updating their estate plan to bring it back into alignment with their wishes.

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