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Should I Update My Estate Planning?

by | Oct 30, 2020 | Estate Planning

People often ask me how often someone must update their estate planning documents. My response is, I have some clients who update every year and others who update once every 70 years…. but surely there must be a rule? My answer: 

You must update it when the law changes so that the documents work for others. You should update it whenever your life changes, so they work the way you expect them to work.

It’s not easy for many people to face the idea of dying. While estate planning is a necessary part of life (and death), it’s not something people wake up in the morning and say “I’m so excited to go to an attorney and do new wills!” or “Let’s have our coffee then go plan what happens if we went up in a coma!” It’s certainly not as exciting as buying a new car or purchasing a new house, but I assure you it’s even more important. Your house and car are part of your estate, but your estate planning encompasses everything you own and what happens to it. A car needs oil changes and regular maintenance to keep running and your estate plan is no different. If your heater breaks, you fix it…but if you don’t know your heater is broken, it’s much less likely to get fixed. That’s the problem with estate planning. Many people want to set it and forget it….but it just doesn’t work that way. 

I’ve tried to save you some time. If you look below, there are two lists. First, is a list of life events that may cause you to want to update your estate plan. If your documents haven’t been updated since the life events occurred, it’s time for a review! The second list is when the estate planning laws impactfully changed most recently. You should look at your estate planning documents to determine if they are older than the date listed. If they are, you really need new documents. So pull out your current documents and check the lists below! You will be happy you did. 


Since you last updated your estate plan, have you:

  • Gotten Married or Divorced?
  • Became a parent or had another child?
  • Altered who you want to inherit your assets?
  • Significantly increased your savings or assets by more than 20%
  • Sold off or given away a substantial portion of your assets?
  • Moved to another state?
  • Started a new business or changed partners in an existing business?
  • Executor, beneficiary, or guardian passed away?
  • Found a charity you are super passionate about?
  • Changed your mind about your medical decisions?
  • Experienced other life-changing events?
  • 3 years have passed since you’ve had your documents checked? (see below!!!)


*Note, that the below shows the current version and the MOST SIGNIFICANT Amendments to each Estate Planning Document. Almost every year Pennsylvania does some sort of updates to one of their form documents which many people have but not every update impacts everyone.  

If your document is older than the version below you should 100% plan to have your documents reviewed.

Health Care Power of Attorney & Living Will & Advance Health Care Directives – October 23, 2018

The Old Law:  Act 2006-169 was approved in the end of November 2006.  

The Current Law:  In 2017 Pa. SB 180 was enacted on OCTOBER 23, 2018.  

Who this impacts:  ORGAN DONORS & OTHERS: Added tons of new language to the documents regarding Organ Donation, however, the 2018 amendments essentially rewrote the entire combined document. So if your document is older than October 2018, it’s time to have it looked at.

Financial Power of Attorney – January 1, 2017

The Old Law; 2014-95 (B.B. 1429) effect. Jan 1, 2015

The Current Law – 2016-79 (S.B. 1104) effective January 1, 2017.

Who this impacts: EVERYONE. 

The following powers were removed from the Pennsylvania Power of Attorneys: 1) Power to Make limited Gifts; 2) Power to authorize my admission to a medical, nursing, residential or similar facility and to enter into agreements for my care; 3) Power to Authorize medical and surgical procedures; 4) Power to make an anatomical gift of all or part of my body. The following powers were added: 1) Power to Operate a business or entity; and 2) Power to provide for personal and family maintenance. 


The Old Law – 1972-164 (S.B. 1225) P.L. 508 approved June 30 1972

The Current Law – 2016-79 (S.B. 1104) – January 1, 2017

WHO THIS IMPACTS: People with Witnesses; Nuncupative Wills; Forfeiture of a right of election; grantee or lienholder sections; those with Power of Appointments in their wills

If you decide you should have your estate planning documents reviewed, have no fear. Schedule a free complimentary consultation at the link below or call now

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