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How to maintain your estate plan over the years

You may know just how important it is to have an estate plan in place. Perhaps you used several professionals to help you with the process. It's comforting to know that your wishes are documented and that you have a plan in place for the end of your life.

However, once that plan is in place, how do you maintain it? Life constantly changes, and it may be difficult to know exactly when the right time is to make adjustments to your estate plan. Fortunately, experts have recommendations for families in Wisconsin on exactly how to ensure their estate plan is up to date, and they offer answers for common questions as well.

What do I need to review and how often?

First, it's good practice to review your entire estate plan. Experts say that looking it all over every five to seven years is a good idea. If you experience a significant life change, like getting married or having a baby, you should look at it whenever that occurs. When you first create your estate plan, it's a representation of your life at that time, which may not be the same as the years pass.

It's also a good idea to specifically review other parts of your plan. Be sure to look over your beneficiary designations as often as you feel it is necessary. This is a common error in many estate plans. Also, review your ownership of your own assets regularly. If you experience a significant change to your health, it can affect your health care directives and your financial choices.

Have questions about your estate plan?

There are several common questions that estate planning professionals encounter. One is how to handle the original documents and copies of your estate plan. Originals need to be in a safe place that is still easy for designated people to access. If your attorney will keep them, that may be the best option; otherwise, a safe in your home is a good place. You should have copies of your plan no matter who has the original and so should anyone with a significant role in the plan, like your executor.

Another common question is what to do if you decide to move out of state. Many people wonder if their estate plan transfers over. Generally, if the document is valid in one state, it will be in another. The only catch is if the document doesn't cover certain provisions that the new state's requires, which may mean that your plan doesn't fully cover you the way you would want. Therefore, moving out of state is another good reason to review your plan.

Conclusion

What is most important is that you have an estate plan to begin with. Working with professionals can help ease your mind that your plan is comprehensive and has all the necessary details that apply to your situation. Once it is in place, reviewing it periodically may not seem so daunting.

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