Many people create their estate planning documents, then stick them in a desk drawer or safe and forget about them for years. Unfortunately, because of changing laws and life circumstances, estate planning is not one-and-done once you have your will or trust and other documents created. The complexity of your estate, major life transitions, and the type of documents you use in your estate plan each determine how often you should update your estate plan.

Review Your Basic Estate Plan and Update if Necessary

We recommend that everyone, regardless of how simple or complex their estate is, review their plans at least once every three years to determine if they need to update their documents. There are at least four key questions you should ask as you review your documents:

  1. Do I need to change my beneficiaries?
  2. Do I need to change my personal representative?
  3. Do I need to change my medical and financial agents?
  4. Are new tax laws going to change the outcome of my plan?

If you are a parent of minor children, you should also make sure you are still satisfied with your appointed guardian, and that they are still willing and able to care for your children if necessary.

For More Complex Estates: Review Your Trust Annually and Update If Necessary

If you have a trust-based plan, reviewing and keeping your plan up to date requires more regular maintenance. We recommend that you review your plan at least once a year. Along with asking the foundational questions listed above, you should also ask:

  1. Have I fully funded my trust?

[Related: Trust Funding: A Checklist for Funding Your Trust]

  1. Have I acquired any new assets (financial accounts, real estate, land, etc.) that need to be put into the trust?
  2. Have my life circumstances or relationships changed significantly? Is my trust still going to accomplish what I want in the future?

For a comprehensive estate planning review, download our 2023 Estate Planning Checklist.

Trust-based Plans and Our Guardian Program: Let Us Keep Your Estate Plan Updated for You

Your trust and other documents require ongoing maintenance, but it does not have to be a burden. Our Guardian Program is designed to regularly maintain your plan for you and ensure that it works the way you intend when you need it. Not only do we maintain and update your plan from year to year, but we also assist your personal representative and agents when it comes time for them to implement it.


Do you need help reviewing and updating your estate plan, or are you interested in more information about our Guardian Program? Call us today!


Joshua E. Hummer, Esq. is the founder of Relational Estate and Elder Law, and he has been a practicing attorney for over 15 years. While experienced in many parts of the law, Josh specializes in estate planning, estate administration, and elder law. He is licensed in both Virginia and West Virginia. Josh’s passion lies in helping people gain peace of mind about the future through holistic legal planning. When he isn’t meeting with clients or crafting legal documents, Josh enjoys spending time with his lovely wife, Jill, and their four vibrant children.