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What’s at risk if your estate plan has outdated instructions?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Once you sit down to create a comprehensive estate plan addressing your health care needs and legacy wishes, you might assume that you never have to consider those issues again. People often feel a false sense of security about their legacies because they drafted a will decades ago or created an estate plan, possibly while living in another state.

The longer it has been since you originally created your estate plan, the more likely it is that you would benefit from updating your plan soon. Changes to your family, your income or your personal property could all be valid reasons to update or adjust your estate plan.

Why is it so important to make changes to your estate planning documents?

Old documents may not comply with state law

Many people whose estates go through probate in Florida lived a significant portion of their lives in another state before moving here. If you used to live in New Hampshire or Idaho, your estate documents likely reflect the laws in those states and not the probate laws in Florida.

Florida has some unique rules, like a law forbidding the enforcement of no-contest clauses. There are other potential differences as well, such as when an estate must pass through probate and the statutory inheritance rights of your spouse.

Updating your documents to comply with state law can protect your legacy. If you realize, for example, that a no-contest clause won’t work to stop a child from contesting your wishes, that might motivate you to create a trust instead to achieve the same goal.

Outdated estate plans are easier for people to challenge

Generally, your loved ones need grounds to bring a challenge against your last wish. Documents so old that they reference deceased family members are assets decades ago may be more vulnerable to such challenges. Family members might claim that you made statements about different wishes later in life but failed to update your estate documents to reflect those changes.

When you routinely revisit your estate plan or commit to updating it whenever your family or financial circumstances change, you ensure your estate planning efforts will have the maximum impact for you and the people that depend on you in the future.