Think back to where you were 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Could you have predicted the events in your life that would lead you to where you are today? Chances are the answer is no. 

However, if you made your estate plan 10 or 20 years ago, it may no longer be up to date. This is precisely because, at the time, you could not have predicted the changes and events, good and bad, that took place between then and now. 

With a few exceptions, you should be able to make adjustments to most of the estate planning documents you already have in place. You should check to see if your estate plan is up to date and meets your needs in the following areas.

1. Providing for family members with special needs

You may have family members with disabilities who will be unable to care for themselves in the event of your death. This may include physically or mentally challenged adults, minor children or the elderly. A special needs trust allows their care to continue without jeopardizing their eligibility for government assistance.

2. Avoiding probate

Going through probate can be lengthy and frustrating for your family. Not only that, but the costs involved are often significant. Careful estate planning can help your loved ones avoid the probate process or at least reduce the costs and time involved

3. Planning for incapacitation

You may become disabled, have to enter a nursing home or lose your mental faculties before you actually pass away. If this happens, someone will have to make decisions on your behalf, particularly regarding your health care and finances. 

You can make your wishes known ahead of time with advanced directives. Use powers of attorney to appoint one or more agents to act for you when making financial or health care decisions that your advanced directives do not cover. 

Your estate plan may be out of date and need updating in other respects as well. These are just a few of the most important areas that it should cover.