Revisit Your California Estate Plan Every 3 to 5 Years to Keep it Up to Date
Finishing a California estate plan feels like a huge relief to many people. It’s a complex process, and it feels good to have it done. However, it’s important to revisit your estate plan every three to five years to make sure it still reflects your intentions and current relationships. If you want to do things differently, do not start changing an estate plan on your own. Marking it or ripping out pages can have unintended, and unwanted, consequences. There are some life changes that should trigger a re-evaluation of an estate plan, no matter when the last revision was.
Here are a few of the big ones.
- Marriage, divorce, remarriage or death of a spouse. As soon as your relationship status changes, you need to revisit your California estate plan. Make sure that you have your current partner named as the person who will make medical decisions for you if you cannot. Also make sure that your current partner is named as the beneficiary on your life insurance policy. If you get divorced or your spouse dies, you need to choose a new person for your health care directive and as your primary beneficiary.
- Birth of children or grandchildren. Parents need to make sure that they have legally named a guardian to take care of their children financially. Once children turn 18, you need to revisit the plan and decide whether to name them as backup trustees or even give them power of attorney. Grandparents who want to provide financially for grandchildren should revise their estate plans to reflect that intention.
Changing an Estate Plan Should Be Done with the Advice of an Attorney
- Life-altering diagnosis. Make sure your family is provided for if you receive a terminal or degenerative diagnosis, especially brain degeneration.
- Change in intentions. If you want to change the way your assets are allocated or disinherit a family member, it is best to see an attorney to make those changes. As we said in the beginning of this post, do not start crossing out sections of your estate plan or tearing out pages. A legal professional should make sure that your intentions are properly reflected in your estate plan.
- The law changes. When the law changes, the language necessary to express your intentions may change, too. Sometimes a change in the law will allow simpler provisions than you currently have in your estate plan, while other changes may necessitate more complex planning.
If it’s been awhile since you looked at your estate plan, feel free to call our office for advice. We offer expert advice on estate planning.