Critter Corner: Updating Estate Planning Documents



Dear Ernie and Jannette,

The last time I updated my estate planning documents was in 2003. Since then, both my children have gotten married and I have five grandchildren. I also bought a second home in Florida. Given these life changing events, should I be updating my estate planning documents?

Best regards,

Maksim Changes-Twomydocs

Dear Maksim,

Just as a car needs regular maintenance, your estate planning documents need to be updated or redone, especially if it has been more than 5 years since you have done so.
Updates to estate planning documents should be made regularly (at least every 1-3 years, depending on the document). This is the only way to ensure that your estate plan truly reflects who you are, what you care about, and what you have.
So, when are updates needed? The list below pinpoints certain examples of events that could have a significant impact on your estate.
• You get married or divorced
• Your spouse dies or becomes incapacitated
• You become ill or disabled
• You have a new child
• Your child marries or divorces
• Your child becomes ill or disabled
• You have a new grandchild
• One of your beneficiaries shows signs of being financially irresponsible
• One of your beneficiaries develops a drug or alcohol problem
• The value of your assets has significantly increased or decreased
• You retire or change employment
• You acquire property in a different state
• You move to a different state
• There have been changes in the law that may affect the language of your documents.
Even if no changes are necessary, you should annually sign updated Powers of Attorney. Some financial institutions won’t accept a Power of Attorney more than a year old. Similarly, the older an Advance Medical Directive is, the less likely it is that it will be honored by a doctor or hospital.

Don’t let too much time pass between reviews of your plan. The cost of a review is minimal; but the cost to your family if you neglect your plan could be disastrous.  If any of these changes have happened to you or if you haven’t updated your estate plan in the last few years, the time is now. Call us at 703-691-1888in Fairfax, at 540-479-1435 in Fredericksburg, or at 202-597-4847 in Washington, DC to update your estate plan! Ask about The Farr Law Firm’s Lifetime Protection Program, which ensures that your documents are properly reviewed and updated as needed, so that they will have the proper effect under the law.


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.