Estate planning is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process that requires regular reviews and updates to ensure that it remains aligned with your life circumstances, financial situation, and changes in the law. In Georgia, where state-specific laws and regulations can significantly impact estate planning, the importance of regular reviews cannot be overstated. This blog delves into why, when, and how to conduct these reviews, ensuring your estate plan in Georgia remains effective and relevant.


Understanding Estate Planning in Georgia


Before diving into the specifics of regular reviews, it’s crucial to understand the basics of estate planning in Georgia. Estate planning involves creating a plan for managing your assets and affairs after your death or incapacitation. This includes wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, and more. Georgia’s laws regarding estates, probate, and trusts can influence how these instruments are drafted and executed.


Life Changes Necessitating Estate Plan Reviews


Several life events can prompt a review of your estate plan:


Marriage or Divorce: Changes in marital status can significantly impact your estate plan. In Georgia, assets acquired during the marriage

are typically considered marital property and may need to be addressed in your estate plan. Divorce, on the other hand, can substantially alter the distribution of your assets and your designated beneficiaries.


Birth or Adoption of a Child: The addition of a new family member is a joyous occasion that necessitates updating your estate plan to include provisions for their care and inheritance.


Death of a Beneficiary or Executor: If a beneficiary or executor named in your will or trust passes away, it’s important to update your estate plan to reflect these changes.


Significant Increase or Decrease in Assets: Major changes in your financial situation, such as receiving an inheritance, winning the lottery, or suffering significant losses, should trigger a review of your estate plan.


Relocation to or from Georgia: Moving to a different state can affect your estate plan due to varying state laws. If you move to or from Georgia, it’s crucial to review your plan to ensure it complies with local laws.


Changes in Business Ownership: If you own a business in Georgia, changes in ownership or business structure can impact your estate plan, particularly in terms of asset distribution and tax implications.


Legal and Tax Changes


Laws related to estates, trusts, and taxes can change frequently. Staying abreast of these changes and understanding how they affect your estate plan is crucial. For instance, changes in federal estate tax laws or alterations in Georgia’s probate and trust laws can necessitate adjustments to your estate plan.


Reviewing Trusts and Wills


Regular reviews of your will and any trusts you have established are essential. This includes ensuring that your asset distribution wishes are still relevant, beneficiaries are up-to-date, and the executors or trustees are still capable and willing to serve.


Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Directives


Durable powers of attorney for finances and healthcare directives should be reviewed regularly. Changes in your health or personal preferences, or changes in the law, might necessitate updates to these documents.


Beneficiary Designations


Beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial instruments should be reviewed to ensure they align with your current wishes and are consistent with the rest of your estate plan. In Georgia, these designations are crucial as they often supersede instructions in a will.


The Role of Digital Assets


In today’s digital age, it’s important to consider digital assets like social media accounts, digital currencies, and online banking in your estate plan. Georgia law has provisions regarding the management of digital assets, and your estate plan should reflect how you want these assets handled.


Trust Funding


A common oversight in estate planning is the failure to properly fund trusts. Reviewing your trust documents to ensure that all intended assets are correctly titled in the trust’s name is a critical step in maintaining the effectiveness of your estate plan.


Gifting Strategies


For those with larger estates, gifting can be an effective way to minimize estate taxes. Regular reviews can help you adjust your gifting strategies in response to changes in tax laws or your financial situation.


Reviewing Estate Plan with Professionals


It’s advisable to review your estate plan with a professional, such as an estate planning attorney or financial advisor. These professionals can provide insights into new laws and strategies that might benefit your estate plan. At Brian M. Douglas & Associates, we have over two decades of estate planning experience.


Communication with Family


Regularly discussing your estate plan with your family can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that your wishes are clear. This is particularly important in Georgia, where family dynamics can play a significant role in estate administration.


Record Keeping


Keeping your estate planning documents up-to-date and in a safe, accessible location is crucial. Make sure your executor or trustee knows where to find these documents.


Reviewing Estate Plan in Response to Economic Changes


Economic fluctuations can impact your estate’s value and the effectiveness of your estate planning strategies. Regular reviews can help you adjust your plan in response to the economic environment.


Charitable Giving


If charitable giving is a component of your estate plan, regular reviews can help you adjust your giving strategies and ensure that your philanthropic goals are being met.


Special Needs Trusts


If you have a beneficiary with special needs, a regular review of your special needs trust is essential to ensure that the trust’s provisions continue to meet the beneficiary’s requirements without affecting their eligibility for government benefits.


Long-Term Care Planning


As you age, considerations for long-term care, including Medicaid planning, become increasingly important. Regular reviews can help ensure that your estate plan addresses these concerns.




Regular estate plan reviews are a critical component of effective estate management, especially in Georgia. Life changes, legal and tax updates, and evolving personal circumstances all necessitate periodic reviews to ensure that your estate plan remains effective, compliant, and aligned with your goals. By engaging with professionals, staying informed, and proactively managing your estate plan, you can ensure that your legacy is preserved and your wishes are honored.