Just like oil changes and replacing the batteries in your smoke detector, maintaining your estate plan is one of those overlooked chores we’re supposed to do, but is often put-off so long that we forget about it entirely. When it comes to estate planning, however, it’s important to keep your information up to date to preserve your future wishes and prevent your loved ones from experiencing any unnecessary stress in the future.
The good news is that once you take steps to develop your estate plan, you can simply follow these steps to keep it current:
1. Update and Review Your Estate Plan Regularly
An estate plan represents a snapshot of your life at the time you create the plan, in conjunction with applicable laws then in effect. As time goes on, changes in your life (or the law) can affect it. Therefore, it’s important to review it periodically to make sure it’s still appropriate.
A good rule-of-thumb is to review your estate plan annually or biannually. This can help prevent your plan from becoming outdated and minimize the chances of you forgetting important events or acquired assets that should be included.
The following major life events may require updates to your estate plan:
- Getting married or divorced
- Having children
- Moving to a different state
- Buying new property
- Something happening to a person named in your estate plan that could affect your relationship or the duties they are to perform on your behalf
- New legislation affecting estate taxation
As these changes occur, update your plan to ensure your wishes for your family are in order.
2. Safely Store Your Estate Planning Documents Together
Your will and/or trust, durable power of attorney, beneficiary designations, letter of intent, health care power of attorney, and guardianship designations are all important documents for a well-managed estate plan. You should keep the original documents somewhere safe, yet accessible, such as a locked safe in your home.
In addition to your originals, you should have a fully executed copy of your estate plan, as well as a digital copy, stored in your AAFMAA Digital Vault, which provides you with secure access to your documents anytime, anywhere.
3. Make Sure Your Executors Know Where to Find It
Once your estate plan is up to date, be sure to let your family members, executors, trustees, and/or agents know who to contact and what their roles will be.
As an AAFMAA Member, your family can count on our personalized Survivor Assistance Services to process claims swiftly and secure your survivor benefits, as well as retrieve any necessary documents you’ve stored in your AAFMAA Digital Vault.
Keeping your estate plan current may feel like a chore — just like those oil changes and battery replacements — but with proper organization and discipline, you can better ensure your wealth, assets and future wishes are all set for your beneficiaries.