planning documents

The Importance of Maintaining Updated Planning Documents

Do you need planning documents? Some people consider estate planning a one-time affair. After all once you have a will in place, you should need never to think about it again, right?

The reality is more complicated than that. An estate plan should never be looked at a single event. Rather, it is an ongoing process that requires periodic attention. As a general rule, you should review–and where appropriate, update–your estate planning documents every few years.

But why is this necessary? Let’s review just a few of the reasons:

You Are Getting Married–Or Divorced

A change in your marital status is often a prompt to update your estate plan. If you are getting married, your prior will may not include your spouse. Conversely, if you are getting divorced, you probably want to remove your now-former spouse as your agent for purposes of your will, power of attorney, or health care directives.

Think About the Children in Planning Documents

Similar to marriage, the arrival of a new baby is often sufficient reason to update your estate plan. For one thing, you will want to name a legal guardian in the event you and your partner both die before your child turns 18. You will probably also want to reconsider the terms of your will to ensure all of your children inherit from your estate.


On the other hand, perhaps you want to disinherit an adult child or another relative who currently stands to benefit under your will. Remember, you are free to revise, amend, or revoke a will as often as you like until you die. So if you simply want to change a beneficiary due to a change in your personal relationship, that is completely within your legal rights.

Premature Death

There may also be scenarios where a person named as an agent or beneficiary in one of your estate planning documents has already passed away. While you should always name alternates to cover such contingencies, it is still worth revisiting your documents in their entirety every so often to account for these predeceased individuals.

Have You Started a Business?

More and more people are leaving the regular workforce to start their own businesses. This can have significant estate planning implications. You need to consider what happens to the business after your death, even if it is just to leave instructions on how to wind things down and distribute the assets.

Have You Just Moved to Virginia?

If your estate plan was prepared when you lived in a different state, moving to Virginia should automatically lead you to consider updating your documents. Every state has different laws when it comes to matters like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. You should not assume that documents that were prepared in compliance with another state’s laws will pass muster here in the Commonwealth.

Let Us Help Create Your Estate Planning Documents

At the very least, there is no harm in learning more about Virginia’s estate planning process. If you need help on how to get started, please call Promise Law today at (757) 690-2470 or contact us here and enroll in one of our free educational workshops by clicking here.


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