Reviewing and determining whether to update your estate plan is an essential part of the estate planning process. Even if nothing significant has changed in your family or financial situation, you should regularly look over an estate plan every 2 to 5 years to be sure it addresses your needs. An Oklahoma City estate planning attorney is helpful in determining the changes necessary to better aid you and your beneficiaries.

An old estate plan does not properly protect you, your loved ones, or your estate. An estate plan has many benefits, but these benefits only apply when the documents in the estate plan are legal, enforceable, and reflect your wishes. In addition to regularly reviewing the plan, you should review and update an estate plan after important life changes, including:

Marriage and Divorce

When you are married, remarried, or divorced, your financial situation and family unit can change significantly. You may want to add or remove your spouse or ex-spouse from positions such as power of attorney, successor trustee, primary beneficiary, or executor. Marrying or divorcing may also mean adding or removing extended family members or your spouse’s children from your estate plan.

A marriage or divorce also brings with it significant asset additions and losses. If your estate plan is not altered after a divorce, it may include many assets that no longer belong to you, and the changes may be significant enough to make the entire plan unenforceable.

Addition of Family Members

When other family members marry, have or adopt children, or otherwise add to their family, this may alter who you wish to benefit from your estate. Trusts can hold assets for children and grandchildren until they reach the age of 18. Most people create their estate plans to benefit their children and grandchildren.

Loss of Family Members

When family members leave, are estranged, or die, your estate plan may need to be altered. These family members may be listed as beneficiaries, executors, powers of attorney, or other positions that you may no longer want them in. If the individual is unable to attend to those duties, your estate plan may become unenforceable, and your assets may enter probate.

Significant Additions or Losses of Finances

You may gain significant assets, like a new inheritance or business growth. You may also gain new debts or lose large financial resources. In these cases, it is important to determine how this changes your estate plan. Debts can have a significant impact on your beneficiaries and the benefits you want them to receive, so it is important to consider how to handle them. Assets without beneficiaries or heirs listed may be subject to probate if you do not update your estate plan.

Other Significant Life Changes

Some other circumstances that should prompt a review of your estate plan include:

  • Your young beneficiaries have grown up and become adults
  • The needs of a beneficiary have changed, such as becoming disabled
  • You have moved to a new state
  • You have acquired property in other states
  • The tax or property laws in your location have changed
  • You or a spouse are planning to retire
  • You have had significant health and medical needs
  • You have lost your job or had a significant employment change
  • You have digital assets to account for


Q: When Should You Revisit and Possibly Revise Your Estate Plan?

A: It’s important to frequently review an estate plan even if you think nothing has changed, typically every 2 to 5 years. This ensures that nothing has escaped your notice and that the beneficiaries and other determinations in the estate plan still reflect your wishes.

You should also review the estate plan soon after any major life change to your family or finances. This includes getting married, getting divorced, others in your family getting married or adding to their family, the estrangement or death of family members, any major asset additions or losses, and business ventures.

Q: How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Oklahoma?

A: An estate that only has a will or is intestate may still avoid probate under one of the following reasons:

  1. Small Estate Affidavit: If the total value of all property in the estate is less than $50,000 after debts have been handled, it can bypass probate proceedings entirely via an affidavit.
  2. Summary Probate: If the estate’s value is $200,000 or less, it qualifies for summary probate, which is a simplified and often shorter form of probate.

If the estate does not qualify, it will go through the typical probate court proceedings if there is no comprehensive estate plan in place.

Q: What Are the 3 Main Priorities You Want to Ensure with Your Estate Plan?

A: Your estate plan should reflect your own personal goals and priorities. An attorney can help you determine what those are. Some common priorities in estate planning include:

  1. Estate Protection: Ensuring your estate and its assets are safe during your life and after your death and are distributed according to your wishes.
  2. Personal Protection: Determining your medical and financial care at the end of your life or in case of incapacitation.
  3. Beneficiary Protection: Making clear your asset beneficiaries and lowering the time, stress, and money your beneficiaries must spend in probate.

Q: Why Is it Important to Update Your Will?

A: An outdated will could cause significant problems during probate proceedings and make the process even longer than if there were no will at all. Big changes, such as large asset losses, may make the will completely unenforceable, meaning your wishes are not followed.

If the will is not unenforceable, there can still be added complications, including a higher likelihood of will contests and a greater chance of those contests succeeding. This greatly increases the time and money all parties spend during probate.

Protect Your Interests By Reviewing Your Estate Plan

If you need to create or update your estate plan, it will be beneficial to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney will know the local and state requirements for a legally valid will, trust, and other documents. The compassionate attorneys at Stange Law Firm want to discuss your plans and the needs of your beneficiaries to help you create a complete and useful estate plan. Contact our team today.