At the time you created your estate plan, you undoubtedly felt that you had accomplished a great deal. You probably put the documents away in a safe place and went on with your life.

In the years since a lot has happened. You and the members of your family have experienced some significant life changes, any one of which may point you in the direction of updating your estate plan.

Assessing impact

The more wealth and material possessions you have, the more important it is to consider how changes might impact your existing plan. You may have acquired a vacation home or a new business. Who inherits the beach house after you are gone? What happens to the company that is beginning to turn a profit? You can rely on legal guidance to help answer such questions when you add large assets to your estate plan.

Identifying changes

Updating your plan does not always involve the acquisition or sale of a material asset. You may want to replace a now deceased beneficiary or health care agent named in your will or change the trustee or guardian for your children in the event you and your spouse die together. You may wish to add your new grandchild as one of your heirs or remove the name of your former son-in-law. These are the types of changes that happen in life and signal the need for estate plan review and revision.

Avoiding disputes

An out-of-date estate plan could result in feuds among beneficiaries. In some high-profile families, the controversy that erupts can even become fodder for public consumption. Making changes to your estate plan may require discussion with family members, and depending on the revisions, these chats may not be altogether pleasant. However, as long as you have good reason for altering your estate plan, change will be a good thing. When you keep beneficiaries abreast of the updates you make, there should be little cause for dispute once you are gone.