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When should an estate plan be updated?

Your estate plan ensures your heirs are well-protected after you're gone. It also helps deal with financial matters related to your estate, including the payment of debts and settling remaining taxes. While having an estate plan in place is of the utmost importance, you should also take the time to update your plan when necessary. In this case, Fidelity recommends the following advice so you can rest assured that your will and other documents sufficiently meet your needs. 

There are some general rules you should adhere to when it comes to your estate plan. Even if no major life changes have taken place, your will and trust documents should be reviewed on a regular basis. For example, some people perform a review whenever they're going over their financial situation as a whole. This can be done on a monthly or quarterly basis depending on your needs. In general, a review should be undertaken once every three to five years. If a specific life event occurs, then a review should be conducted immediately. 

For instance, new marriages and divorces are a common reason to go over your estate plan in its entirety. Naturally, you want to rest assured that your new spouse is included in documents so that your ex does not receive assets in error. It's also a good idea to update your plan upon the birth or adoption of a new child. 

Your finances can also trigger a review. Let's say you come into a large amount of money that substantially changes your financial outlook. You'll need to update your plan to include new assets while also ensuring tax matters are sufficiently dealt with. If an heir dies before you, this person should be removed from your will. You can also use your will to set up guardianship and other protections in the event an adult child suddenly becomes disabled. 

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