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When It's Time to Update Your Estate Plan Thumbnail

When It's Time to Update Your Estate Plan

As a discerning individual with significant wealth, you understand the importance of having an estate plan. However, having one isn't enough; it must be current and aligned with your evolving goals and circumstances. In this post, we'll explore why updating your estate plan regularly is essential and how to ensure it meets both technical and personal objectives.

The Necessity of Regular Reviews

Estate planning is a dynamic process, not a one-time event. Over half of affluent individuals have estate plans that are more than three years old. This is concerning for several reasons:

  1. Tax Law Changes: Tax laws are continually evolving. An older estate plan might not leverage current opportunities to transfer assets efficiently, potentially resulting in unnecessary tax burdens.
  2. Wealth Status Changes: Significant changes in your financial situation necessitate updates to your estate plan to reflect your current and future needs accurately.
  3. Personal and Family Changes: Life events such as marriages, divorces, births, and deaths can significantly impact your estate plan's effectiveness.

To derive the maximum benefit from estate planning, keeping your plan updated is crucial, especially following significant events that could affect your wealth.

Components of a Strong Estate Plan

A robust estate plan is built on two key components:

  1. Technical Expertise involves a deep understanding of estate planning laws, rules, and strategies. It ranges from basic legal strategies to sophisticated techniques, including discounting and innovative financial product use.
  2. The Human Element: This encompasses the psychological and emotional aspects of estate planning. Understanding your values, goals, and concerns is paramount in crafting an estate plan that meets your needs.

Technical Expertise: Trusts and Partnerships

Trusts are often foundational in estate planning, allowing for the transfer of assets to trustees for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. Trusts can help shield assets from creditors and provide tax benefits depending on their structure.

Partnerships can also play a crucial role, especially in business contexts. They help manage ownership issues and can offer significant tax advantages by structuring business divisions strategically.

The Human Element: Aligning with Your Goals

While technical expertise is essential, the accurate measure of an exceptional estate plan is how well it aligns with your personal goals. Your estate planner must have a deep understanding of your values and objectives. This human element ensures that the strategies employed are technically sound and appropriate for achieving your desired outcomes.

A Process for Effective Estate Planning

Following a structured process can increase the likelihood of an estate plan that meets both technical and personal needs:

  1. Start with the End in Mind: Envision the outcomes you want in various scenarios (e.g., your death, your spouse's death, simultaneous death of both, etc.). Determine how assets should be handled and who will control them.
  2. Determine Desired Results: Communicate your desired outcomes to a competent estate planner who can devise strategies to achieve them.
  3. Make Decisions: Choose the most suitable action based on the planner's input.
  4. Implement the Plan: Formalize and document your decisions, creating the estate plan.

Continuous Review and Stress Testing

Think of your estate plan as a work in progress. Revisit it every few years and stress test it to ensure it aligns with your current goals. This proactive approach helps identify gaps or changes needed to maintain effectiveness.


Estate planning is about more than just minimizing taxes; it's about ensuring your wealth is transferred in line with your wishes and values. Regularly updating your estate plan and incorporating technical expertise and personal understanding can help you achieve the desired outcomes for yourself and your loved ones.

If you have doubts about your current estate plan's effectiveness, consider consulting with your wealth manager for a thorough review. These steps will ensure your estate plan remains a powerful tool in securing your legacy and providing for those you care about most.

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