Is it time to update your estate plan?

August 18, 2020

Every adult in Ontario should have an estate plan in place. Though it may be uncomfortable to make decisions regarding incapacity and end-of-life care before you need to, the fact is that doing so can give you and the people you love peace of mind.

However, to ensure all the work and thought you put into an estate plan remains accurate and current, you must update your estate plan at specific points.

When your beneficiaries change

Getting married or divorced, the death of a loved one, and the birth of a child or grandchild can affect your heirs. After any of these events, it can be wise to update your plan to remove estranged parties and include new people.

If you do not update your plan, the changed relationships can create confusion and conflict regarding decision-making authority and estate administration.

When your wishes change

People change over time. Your ambitions and beliefs can be different at age 30 and age 60. People also experience things that affect their values.

As such, you should update your plan if it no longer aligns with your wishes in terms of components like charitable gifts, guardianships, end-of-life care and inheritances.

When your resources change

A primary component of administering an estate involves locating assets, assigning values and distributing property. If your plan is outdated, your estate executor can face avoidable obstacles that slow or derail the administration process.

Thus, if you experience a windfall of money or a dramatic decrease in your assets, it can be critical to revise your estate plan to reflect your current situation. Similarly, you should update your plan if you buy or sell a property or start or close a business.

When you update your will and other estate planning documents after these events, you minimize the chances that outdated information or substitute decision-making appointments will create conflict. Your efforts now can make things much easier for your loved ones during an especially painful time.