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By Stephanie C. Smith

Upon completing their estate planning, clients often ask how often they will need to update their Wills and other estate planning documents in the future. While there is no set amount of time that applies to every client’s personal situation, a good rule of thumb is to review one’s Will at least every two to three years to ensure the Will still reflects one’s wishes.

The occurrence of a significant life event, such as a wedding, divorce, birth of a child or grandchild, or death in the family, would warrant reviewing a Will immediately rather than waiting for a periodic review. A change in the ability of a person appointed to serve as executor would also warrant reviewing and most likely updating a Will. As an example, an executor who was a wise choice to appoint many years ago may now be having health or memory issues, or may live a great distance away.

Other circumstances such as a change in the tax laws or in a client’s personal financial situation may also occur. We recommend prompt review of a Will and other estate planning documents in these instances to ensure the estate plan still accomplishes a client’s goals and will not result in adverse tax consequences.

In the event you are unsure whether an update to your Will or other estate planning documents may be in order, it is best to contact an estate planning attorney for a consultation. A codicil, new Will, or other updated documents may or may not be needed, but having your documents reviewed in either case should bring greater peace of mind.