Update your estate planning documents for the new year

The beginning of the year is an ideal time to review your estate planning documents to ensure they still represent your wishes and circumstances accurately. It's not only important to consider your property and assets, but the people involved—beneficiaries, executor, trustee, guardian, and more.

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by Michelle Kaminsky, Esq.
updated May 11, 2023 ·  2min read

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time for you to look over your estate planning documents and make sure everything is according to your wishes, particularly as affected by the previous year's events.

When updating your documents, you should consider not only the property and assets that are being distributed, but also the people involved. Carefully consider beneficiaries as well as people with whom you have entrusted other responsibilities, including the executor of your will, trustee of a trust, power of attorney, and guardian of your children.

So what exactly should you be looking for as you update your estate planning documents? What follows are some possible events and circumstances that may require changes in your will or other estate planning documents:

1.   Marriage. Did you, your child, or another family member named in your documents get married?

2.   Divorce. Did you, your child, or another family member named in your documents get divorced?

3.   Birth or adoption of a child, grandchild, etc. Did you, your child, or someone else give birth or adopt a child that you would like included in your estate planning? Do you have to name a guardian for your children in case of your death?

4.   Child has reached the age of majority. Has a child named in your estate planning documents turned 18 or otherwise reached a milestone set in your estate plan?

5.   Death or serious illness. Has someone named in your estate plan died or fallen seriously ill, especially if it's someone who has been named as your executor, power of attorney, or trustee?

6.   Changes in relationships with people, pets, or organizations. Do you have a new relationship with someone or an organization you would like to include in your planning? Alternately, have you severed any such relationships?

7.   Purchase or sale of major assets. Have you bought or sold a house, opened or closed a business, etc.?

8.   New insurance policies or pension plans. Have you acquired new insurance policies or pension plans that require adjustment of beneficiaries in your estate plan? Have you reached the age at which you are required to take distributions from a pension plan?

9.   Change of your state of residence. Have you moved and inadvertently made part of your estate plan invalid?

10. Tax law changes. Are there new or different provisions in the tax law that affects your estate distribution plan?

Get help creating or updating an estate plan. If you're not sure which estate planning documents you need, our estate planning tool can help you decide. Simply answer a few questions, and we will recommend the estate planning documents that are best for your specific situation. Once you determine which estate planning documents you need, our estate planning bundle can help you save money by allowing you to purchase multiple documents for one low price.


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Michelle Kaminsky, Esq.

About the Author

Michelle Kaminsky, Esq.

Freelance writer and editor Michelle Kaminsky, Esq. has been working with LegalZoom since 2004. She earned a Juris Docto… Read more

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.