Estate planning documents like a will, trust and living will are powerful instruments that ensure your final wishes will be carried out as you wanted. They take effect as soon as they are properly executed. Left unchanged, they will be honored when you die, whether that is tomorrow or 50 years from now.
However, that does not mean your estate plan is set in stone. In North Carolina, you have the right to change your will and other parts of your plan whenever you want. This could mean adding a codicil to make a relatively small adjustment or writing a new will that takes the old one’s place.
Six times to take a look at your estate plan
While it probably is not necessary for you to review your estate plan every year, certain life events are good opportunities to take a look with your estate planning attorney and decide if a change is needed. These include:
- Getting married or divorced.
- Having a new child or adding stepchildren to your family.
- A child was born disabled or became disabled and requires a special needs trust.
- You have new grandchildren.
- Estrangement from an heir, beneficiary or designated power of attorney.
- Moving to a new state with different estate planning and probate laws than North Carolina.
Many of these events bring new people into your life; others represent someone leaving it. An outdated will or other estate planning document might no longer reflect your current priorities. For example, most people would not want their former spouse to inherit their estate or serve as their power of attorney (though some would). Or you might want your grandchildren to inherit some of your estate directly, but they were not born when you drew up your plan years ago. These are the sorts of things that amending your estate plan can take care of.