How Often Should I Review My Documents?

Baker Park, Frederick, MD

Baker Park, Frederick, MD

In order for your estate planning documents to be effective, they need to reflect your current wishes and situation. If the will you had drafted ages years ago no longer reflects what you want, it may be as bad or worse than not having any will at all. That’s why it’s so important to regularly review your documents. That doesn’t mean you need to update or change them regularly, but you should take a look at them to make sure they are still doing what you want.

How often should you review them? To be safe, you could do it once a year. Take a date that you don’t mind the mildly morbid task of reviewing your documents (probably not your birthday), and set it aside to check your estate planning documents; when you change the clocks back for daylight saving time is a good option. If everything still looks right, great. If not, try to fix it sooner rather than later.

In reality, your circumstances probably haven’t changed much in the past year. It’s probably safe to review your will every three to five years (of course it’s easier to remember to do something once a year rather than every three years.)

You should also review your documents whenever a major life event occurs. Borrowing from the ABA’s Consumer Toolkit for Health Care Advance Planning, you should re-examine your documents when one of the “Five D’s” occur:

  • Death: when a loved one dies
  • Divorce: if you or a loved one gets divorced
  • Diagnosis: if you are diagnosed with a serious illness or condition
  • Decline: if you experience a decline in your ability to live independently
  • Decade: when you enter a new decade of your life

Take a date that you don’t mind the mildly morbid task of reviewing your documents (probably not your birthday)

Occasionally, there are changes in the law that make sense for you to get a change to your documents. In 2010, there was a new law in Maryland regarding powers of attorney that created a statutory power of attorney. If you have a power of attorney created before then, it is still valid, but a bank might not recognize it, and, unlike the statutory form, they are not required to accept it. Your advance directive should contain a HIPAA authorization clause that allows doctors to share private information to your agent to allow him or her to make medical decisions on your behalf. If your advance directive was created before 1996, you should consider getting a new one with the HIPAA language.

If you have estate planning documents and are unsure if they are up to date, review them see if they reflect your current choices. If you’re unsure, contact an estate planning attorney to review them with you.

Related: A Guide For When You Need a New Will

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.

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Montefusco Estate Planning, LLC
8133 Runnymeade Dr Frederick, Maryland 21702
Phone: 240-415-8323 URL of Map