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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, April 26, 2021

When Should I Update My Estate Plan?

Have you made a will or trust only to file it away and promptly forget about it?

If so, you are not alone. While many of us are proactive in initial estate planning, we often fail to revisit our essential documents in the years following.

However, California estate planning attorneys advise clients to remember that life circumstances and family dynamics continuously shift and change. The details of your estate plan warrant updating to ensure that your wishes will be fulfilled in the event of incapacitation or death.

When Should I Update My Estate Plan?

Everyone’s timing for an update and review of their estate documents will vary.

For some, it’s merely a matter of ensuring that the documents are still compliant with state and federal estate planning and tax laws. This is particularly true if several years have passed since originally drafting your documents.

Others will need to update their will, trusts, and powers of attorney as relationships or financial circumstances change. Here are the top 3 shifts in individual circumstances that may warrant an estate plan review and update:

1. Marital or Relationship Status

If you get married, cohabit with, or have a significant other for whom you want to provide after your death, you should modify your estate planning documents to indicate as much.

In cases of divorce, and depending on the provisions of your marital settlement agreement, you may need to amend your estate plan to remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary to your estate.

Don’t assume your wishes regarding your loved one and your estate will be carried out. Define your intentions in your will or trust, and in compliance with state law, by working with a qualified estate planning attorney to update your documents.

2. Assets and Liabilities

A significant change to your assets and liabilities should trigger an update to your estate planning.

Newly acquired assets must be transferred into the ownership of your trust for protection under the trust umbrella.

If you have accrued significant liabilities, you may need to amend your estate plan to protect your estate and your beneficiaries from creditors upon your death.

3. Executors and Trustees

When you drafted your original estate planning documents, you undoubtedly put a lot of thought into who would be a suitable trustee to your estate, as well as those who would best serve as financial or medical powers of attorney. Often, however, time changes the relationships we have with others, and those appointments may need to be updated.

Perhaps your relationships changed because the person moved away, died, or cannot perform the required duties. It’s time to meet with your estate planning attorney and draft new documents with new appointees.

Update Your Estate Planning Documents with a California Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning offers significant peace of mind that your legacy goals will be fulfilled in case of your incapacitation or death.

When properly drafted by a qualified estate planning attorney, your documents can provide several benefits, such as asset protection, reduced estate and inheritance taxes, and detailed provisions for your heirs. But remember, regular updates to your estate plan are essential.

Don’t leave your heirs and your estate vulnerable due to lack of maintenance over time.

For a comprehensive review and update of your estate plan, contact our law office today. We will connect you with an experienced California estate planning attorney who can assist you with all of your estate planning needs.


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