One listener wants to know how often legal documents have to be updated. I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Don and his wife had a lawyer draw up living wills and powers of attorney forms for them twenty years ago. He says his finances are the same, and his only child is the one listed as the beneficiary. He wants to know how often those documents need to be updated if his personal situation hasn’t changed. 

Having documents reviewed at least every five years is a good idea to ensure first that they were written correctly in the first place, that there’ve been no changes in state laws that might affect the enforceability of the documents or new tax penalties your estate could now face. Remember there’ve also been major improvements in healthcare in the last 20 years that might change decisions you had made about whether to get life sustaining treatment. So first, read what you wrote twenty years ago to see if you still agree with your younger self, and if you don’t, get them revised. If you do and you’re confident there are no changes in your family, finances, or the laws, you may not need to spend the money on the legal review now.

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