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Update your beneficiaries when doing estate planning

When doing your estate planning, remember that you have to update that plan periodically. Common times for an update include when you get married, when you get divorced, when you have a child or when someone named in your will passes away.

For instance, maybe you named your parents in your will when you were in college. Fast forward to when you're 45, and you have two kids of your own. Your parents have passed away. Your assets have significantly changed, and you need to make sure they go to your spouse or your kids.

It's also wise to remember that you have beneficiaries that you picked for specific financial policies. These operate outside of your will. You need to update them, as well.

"Make sure to update your beneficiaries on workplace retirement accounts and life insurance policies," said one financial expert. "Young people sometimes make their parents beneficiaries, then forget to change it when they get married, or forget to take their spouse off when they get divorced."

If you want, you can simply update the plan whenever you reach a major life event, such as those noted above. However, this still leaves the door open to forgetting, so you may actually be better off if you create a set schedule. Once a year, go over the plan, make sure everything still fits with what you want, and revisit it again the following year.

No matter where you are in this process, it is important to understand what steps to take to make sure your estate plan really does exactly what you want it to do.

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