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How often should I update my estate plan?

Your will is meant to be the last statement of your intentions about how to distribute your property after you are gone. However, a lot can happen in your life after you sign your name on your finished will. If you don't update your will to reflect these changes, you may end up leaving a plan that does not reflect your wishes. In the worst cases, an out-of-date will can lead to confusion, disputes and even litigation.

When drafting a will, a good attorney will use language that can accommodate certain changes in a person's family life. However, no one can foresee all the changes that may happen in a family, and no lawyer can guess how their clients' wishes will change over the years.

Many estate planning attorneys tell most clients they should review their plans every five years, and they should revise their wills after big life events such as a divorce, a remarriage, and the birth of a new child. In some cases, these changes in circumstances may be covered by careful language in your will. In others, they may require only minor changes. Some events may require extensive changes to your will. Any changes will require you to follow the formal requirements for a will under Texas law.

One significant event that may require you to update your will is the death of anyone named in your will. For example, if you named a cousin as one of your heirs, and your cousin has died since the drafting of the will, it's a good idea to talk to an attorney to see what changes, if any, may be necessary.

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