How old is your Florida estate plan? Experts say that even the ultra-wealthy – those with more than $500 million in net worth – often have estate plans that are at least five years old. It is important to remember that your estate planning documents do have a shelf life; they need to be reviewed periodically to ensure that they are still relevant and accurate.

Financial experts say that estate plans should be updated any time a major life event takes place. Those can include getting married, having a child, divorcing or launching a business. Many of us have heard about the consequences of failing to appropriately update an estate plan; inadequate or outdated estate administration documents lead to disputes between family members, along with drawn-out probate battles. In some cases, an ex-spouse may even receive a significant part of the estate because the benefactor failed to change his or her estate documents after a breakup.

It is not just the ultra-wealthy among us who need to revisit their estate plans. Still, the vast majority of us allow our estate plans to languish; inattention to this important detail appears to be the norm. Some people may be concerned about the costs of changing their estate plan, or they may simply shy away from the difficult decisions that sometimes have to be made during the process.

The fact remains that all of us could stand to review our estate plan on an annual basis. Changes in the nature or size of your estate certainly warrant revisions, but keeping your finger on the pulse of the status of your estate is always advisable. A comprehensive set of up-to-date estate plans can help your survivors distribute your assets with ease, instead of having to wade through the sometimes overwhelming probate process.

Luis E. Barreto