It may be shocking to hear, but if you have an estate plan in place, you are actually in the minority. As the American Bar Association points out, 55 percent of Americans pass away without having a will or end-of-life document in place.

However, you should know that your work does not end once your plan is created. You will have to make sure that you update that plan at least once a year, experts suggest, in order to ensure that your terms are accurate. Forbes magazine notes that a dated plan can quickly cause problems among heirs.

Therefore, in addition to reviewing your documents every year, you should also update your plan after the following events:

  • A birth or death in the family
  • Marriages or divorces
  • Major purchases or sales, such as the sale of a home or buying a boat
  • Significant changes to your income or investments
  • Moving to a new state, where estate planning or tax laws may differ from the state where you created the plan

Additionally, you should take the time to ensure that your wishes as outlined in your plan still stand. You may find that over the years, you have a change of heart regarding who should receive which assets.

In addition to beneficiaries, make sure to keep your estate administrator, trustee or executor updated. An unexpected death or change in relationship could mean that you need to reevaluate who will preside over your affairs following your passing.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

Luis E. Barreto