You’ve already got your important estate planning documents drafted: a will, power of attorney and advance directive. They’re signed, in a safe place, and you’ve had discussions with your loved ones about where they are how they should be used. But it’s been a few years. Do they need to be updated?
Your will, advance directive and power of attorney will not expire. (Sometimes a power of attorney will have a termination date, but that will probably be very far in the future or not used at all.) The most common reason you’ll need to update your documents is if you want to make a change to them: there’s been a change in your circumstances and your document no longer reflects your wishes. If that’s the case, you should talk to a lawyer. You may be able to make an amendment to your document, or it might be easier to have a new one drawn up.
When you should consider getting a new will (or advance directive or power of attorney):
- Your old document no longer reflects your wishes: this is the most common reason you would need a new document. Maybe you no longer want to leave your property to your old college roommate or maybe your elderly parent is now too old to be a good guardian for your minor child.
- You’ve experienced a major life event: Divorce, marriage, the birth of your first child. These changes pretty much always necessitate getting a new will.
- You’ve moved to a new state: State laws on wills, powers of attorney and advance directives can vary a lot from state to state (or sometimes they are very similar.) You should talk to a lawyer to see if your estate planning documents from your old state are still effective in Maryland.
- There’s been a change in the law: changes in the law so drastic that they require a new document are rare. But if your power of attorney pre-dates the Maryland Power of Attorney Act in 2010 creating the statutory form, or your Advance Directive doesn’t have HIPAA authorization language, you should consider getting new documents.
When you don’t need a new will:
- You’ve moved within the state: If you’ve moved but still live in the same state, you probably don’t need new documents. Even though your documents might use your old address or information, an in-state move doesn’t require new documents.
- It’s been X number of years: Estate planning documents don’t expire (except in the rare case your power of attorney has a termination date that has passed). Just because it’s been 3 or 5 or 10 years doesn’t by itself mean that you need a new will drawn up.
The important part for you is to review your documents regularly to see if they still reflect your wishes. If you decide you need a change, contact us today to have an experienced attorney help you.
Montefusco Estate Planning, LLC is an estate planning law firm in Frederick, MD. If you are interested in our services, contact us today. This information is written for the context of Maryland estate planning but is not legal advice for anyone. For more information, read our disclaimer.