If you have taken the time to create a comprehensive estate plan with the help of an experienced attorney, you have made a good decision which will have a significantly positive impact on your family’s future. Estate plans provide clarity and guidance during challenging times, such as your unexpected passing or incapacitation. Your loved ones won’t be left in the dark about your wishes, which means that there will be less confusion and potential for conflict. Also, a carefully crafted and personalized estate plan ensures the smooth and efficient distribution of your assets, which allows your loved ones to also have financial stability.
Finally, estate planning can alleviate many of the burdens that may fall on your family in the wake of a tragedy by addressing important decisions related to healthcare proxies, living wills, and guardianship for minor children. Ultimately, an estate plan is a thoughtful and considerate way to safeguard your family’s well-being and provide them with the support and security they need during difficult times. However, an estate plan is not just something you can “set and forget.” While you may have committed to preparing for the future, the commitment doesn’t end when the ink is dry on your paperwork.
Estate plans should be periodically (at least every 3 years) reviewed and updated as needed, and in this blog, we’ll give you the 7 reasons why.
1. Changes To The Family Dynamic
As the years pass, there may be many different changes to the family dynamic that warrant a change to your estate plan, including:
- The birth or adoption of a new child or grandchild
- When a child or grandchild becomes an adult
- When a child or grandchild needs educational funding
- Death or change in circumstances of the guardian named in your will for minor children
- Changes in your number of dependents, such as the addition of caring for an adult
- Marriage or divorce
- Illness, disability, or death of your spouse
- Death, illness, or disability of a family member
- Death or change in circumstance of your executor or trustee
2. Legal Revisions
Other times, your estate plan may need to have a second look because of changes to the estate, tax, or probate laws and regulations of California. Unfortunately, the government won’t be giving you a courtesy phone call to let you know about these changes, so it is up to you to have an attorney review it to ensure you remain legally compliant.
3. Changes To Your Financial Circumstances
Since a lot of your estate plan deals with your finances, it is especially crucial to update it in the face of changes to your financial circumstances, which might be:
- A significant increase or decrease in your overall wealth
- A significant change to your income
- The purchase or sale of major assets like real estate, businesses, or investments
- Inheriting a large sum or experiencing a significant windfall
- Substantial changes to your debt levels
- Changes to your investment portfolio
- And more!
4. Changes To Your Goals
As you change and as your life changes over time, you may begin to rethink your ultimate goals and priorities. For example, you might become involved with a charity or other philanthropic organization and decide you want to plan to donate some of your money to it after you pass. Or, you might experience a shift in your healthcare preferences, and want to make changes to your living will or other advance directives. When you update your estate plan, you can have peace of mind that your plan remains a true reflection of your intentions and that it aligns with the values and objectives that matter most to you.
5. Changes To Beneficiaries
Some of your assets, like life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial entities likely required you to name their designated beneficiaries. Therefore, changes in relationships or preferences may warrant updates to ensure that your assets go to your intended recipients.
6. Changes To Your Health
A shift in your physical and/or mental health, particularly if it’s declining, should cause you to review and potentially update your estate plan. You want to be sure it still lines up with what you’d want to happen if making decisions on your own becomes a challenge or even impossible. If you never established a living will, any advance directives, or a healthcare proxy, now is the time to do so. Also, consider if your money matters need tweaking to cover potential health costs. It’s not just about the now; it’s about making sure your plan is ready for the long haul and taking care of you and your loved ones when you might not be able to speak for yourself.
7. Changes To Your Executor And Trustee Designations
There are many events (such as death, conflict, etc.) that could spur you to want to change the name of your executor and/or trustee. These individuals will essentially take control of your estate at some point in time, so if they are no longer alive or if you change your mind about entrusting them with your life’s earnings, you’ll need to make sure to have your estate planning attorney assist you with making those revisions.
What You Risk By Not Reviewing And Updating Your Estate Plan
- Your true intentions and wishes not being expressed, and therefore followed
- Your goals not being accomplished
- Your healthcare preferences not being expressed or followed
- Unintended beneficiaries, unequal asset distribution among your heirs, and the exclusion of loved ones from inheritances you may have wanted them to have
- Your estate plan being declared invalid, or not able to be legally enforced, leaving your family to handle all potential legal challenges
- Your estate plan utilizing inefficient tax strategies
- The invalidation of certain provisions
- No reflection of the evolving needs of your beneficiaries
- And more!
Trust The Hayes Law Firm To Protect What Matters Most
Ultimately, by failing to revisit your estate plan, you are exposed to a higher risk of it being outdated, legally insufficient, or misaligned with your true intentions. This also puts you and your family at risk for family disputes and an increased financial and emotional burden. Our experienced estate planning attorney has over 40 years of experience and can make sure this is not the outcome for you and those you love! Call today to schedule your free consultation and learn more!
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