How Often Should You Update End-of-Life Documents?

When Should End of Life Documents Be Updated?

( – Someone wise once said the only thing constant in life is change. This is especially true when it comes to end-of-life documents. Having a living will, durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy in place can feel like a huge relief, but that doesn’t mean the work stops there.

Regularly updating documents detailing your final wishes for the future of your estate and health care is essential to making sure everything goes as planned. Here’s the need-to-know on keeping end-of-life documents up to date.

Things Happen, Embrace the Change

Life comes with many changes and sometimes they affect our plans for the future. For example, learning of a health condition might impact an individual’s advanced directive and require them to clearly spell out details about care and life-saving preferences on paper. Other life changes include:

  • Getting married
  • Having or adopting a child (or grandchild)
  • Buying a house
  • Retiring
  • Winning the lottery (hey, it could happen!)

These may all have an impact on how you want your estate handled or how you want health care initiatives carried out. By reviewing your plans once a year, you can make sure your documents speak for you, in case you can’t speak for yourself.

Create a Yearly Document Review Habit

Let’s face it, life is busy. Changing your end-of-life documents is something you should probably do when an event happens but instead, future planning often gets placed on the back burner to be dealt with at a later date. Sometimes we never get to that “later date.”

No one knows what tomorrow brings, but having a yearly routine of reviewing your important documents can create a sense of security about the future. Pick a date that’s meaningful to you — a wedding anniversary, child’s birthday or spouse’s — and each year, on that date, sit down and go over your important papers.

Once you complete your review, be sure to tell the people that need to know what changes you’ve made. These include your lawyer so a new will can be filed if necessary, heirs, executors, trustees and people who you’ve asked to hold power of attorney for you in an emergency.

Asking for Help

If you’re just getting started, an estate attorney and a financial planner are invaluable resources in the task of planning for the future. These highly knowledgeable professionals know the right questions to ask as well as how to proceed with a thorough review of your end-of-life plans and documents. They should have you leaving the office with complete peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out.

~Here’s to Your Financial Health!

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