How Often Should Estate Planning Documents Like Wills or Trusts Be Updated?

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Gentreo suggests one-year, when major life changes happen or if major legislative changes happen, read below for more.

There are certain legal documents one might sign that are considered “static” documents, meaning the document is not going to change. For example, if one signs a lease agreement with a landlord for a 5-year term, over the course of that 5-year period one’s lease is not going to change. While it might be renegotiated later, once it is signed, that lease one is bound by its requirements for the full term of the agreement. Thus, the document is static. Conversely, documents that can change are called “living documents”. Wills and revocable Trusts are living documents as these can frequently be changed. The question then becomes, how often though should one change or update these living documents such as Wills or revocable Trusts or other documents related to estate planning?

Many people fall into the trap of drafting an online Will or Trust and putting it in a storage box and never revisiting it. When the person dies, and the executor begins to administer the estate, he or she quickly learns that some of the beneficiaries named in the Will are deceased, particular properties are no longer part of the estate, bank information has changed, and a whole host of other issues. While having an outdated Will is undoubtedly better than having no Will at all, it is beneficial to the person whose Will it is and the beneficiaries to have a Will updated throughout their lifetime.

There are a number of different opinions from various professionals concerning the frequency that someone should review their Will or revocable Trust and make changes. Some people suggest one to every five years, while others believe shorter periods of time are more appropriate. A good rule of thumb is to look at one’s Will every year. Most people have to renew health insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or conduct a detailed review on an annual basis so adding in reviewing one’s Will makes sense too.

Reasons to update a Will or Trust as soon as possible can include:

  • Relationships change (marriage or divorce)
  • Births or deaths might occur
  • Laws affecting gifts change
  • Financial situations might change for good or bad

It only takes a few minutes to glance at one’s existing Will and Trusts and make sure that nothing needs to be changed. Gentreo will also send alerts on what might be changing regarding tax laws so one might want to check when alerts come out.

It is also essential anytime one accumulates or disposes of substantial assets that changes to one’s Will are completed as soon as possible. Concerning revocable Trusts, known also as living Trusts, the same rules typically apply. However, keep in mind that one cannot make changes to an irrevocable Trust as those responsibilities have been turned over to the Trustee. If one has a revocable Trust, then one can make changes at any time.


Reviewing a Will or Trust is important to make sure any necessary changes are made accordingly. Gentreo suggests one-year, when major life changes happen or if major legislative changes happen. Create and store a Will or Trust documents in the Gentreo Vault; set reminders too to check-in to make sure all documents coincide with current wishes.

For more information, visit us at We provide a simple and affordable way to create a heath and estate family plan.

Gentreo is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm, or attorney, or an attorney’s advice or recommendations.



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