A lot of people tend toward procrastination, especially when the task in question does not seem like it is especially pressing. This is clearly a propensity that is applicable to estate planning, but there comes a time when those who have been putting it off recognize the need to have a plan in place and finally take the plunge. Once they have accomplished their goals they breathe a sigh of relief, store away some documents, and put the matter behind them for good.
Unfortunately, this is not the correct way to proceed. Estate planning is a dynamic process, not an administrative chore that you address just once in your life. When you dissect the rudiments of the typical estate plan they involve matters of health and finances. If you look at health first, none of us can predict the state of our ongoing health with any true level of accuracy. You may be spry as a kitten throughout your retirement years and die in your sleep one day in your own bed. On the other hand, you may face some ongoing health challenges as the years pass. The details as they unfold are likely to impact your estate plan and necessitate updates as your life situation changes.
The same thing is true of financial matters. The best way to situate your assets on the day that you initially created the plan may not be appropriate a year, five years, or ten years down the line. Your family is likely to go through changes, there can be additions, subtractions, divorces, and other matters that make it necessary to alter some aspect of your estate plan. Tax law revisions and shifting economic conditions can also create the need to alter your plan.
Estate planning is an ongoing process, and it is important to see it as such. Consider the impact that the changes around you may be having on your estate plan and be prepared to take action when necessary.