Our office recommends reviewing your Estate Plan at least every 2-3 years, if not more frequently. The reason for this is because circumstances change, assets change, and family situations change - the will you created 5 years ago may not still fulfill all of your Estate Planning intentions any longer.
Now, you may be asking yourself: "Well can't I just make minor changes to my will myself?" There are several reasons why you should always have an Estate Planning Attorney review your plan and make the revisions for you.
1. You may not know how to best make the revision to fulfill your intentions. There are a lot of legal nuances in the law of Estate Planning. Simple wording changes can have a substantial legal impact - especially when it comes to tax ramifications. An experienced Estate Planning Attorney will be able to make the revisions you need in a way that best protects both your interests and those of your potential beneficiaries.
2. There are legal formalities that are required when revising a will. The standard type of will used is the attested writted will, which requires the signature of the testator (the person making the will) to be witnessed by two people and notarized in order to be effective. Any revisions made to a will also have to follow those formalities.
3. Your financial team needs to be informed of any changes you intend to make. Without including your financial team (CPA, financial advisor, Estate Planning Attorney, life insurance agent) in your planning, or revisions to your plan, they cannot sufficiently advise you as to the steps you need to make moving forward to best protect your family and assets. Making changes on your own cuts out your financial team.
4. Your plan needs to be consistent. Revising your will without reviewing the rest of your Estate Plan can create a contradiction in your plan. Maybe you broke up with a significant other and want to remove them from your will - if you don't also remove them as your health care agent you aren't really accomplishing what you set out to accomplish.
If things change, set up a time to review your plan with your attorney. Going it alone can be dangerous.