When Is It Necessary To Update My Estate Plan?

First of all, there is no time when the documents that we would prepare for you would expire and so the only time we change the estate plan is if there is some reason to make a change; otherwise, the estate plan theoretically could be good for decades. However, there are several events that can occur that could cause you to want to update your estate plan. Some of the things that would make you want to change your estate plan would be changes in the law that would affect your estate. Most commonly, these would be changes in the tax laws that would affect how estates are taxed when a person passes away. Second would be a change in assets. If there is a significant change in the actual assets or in the value of the assets, we want to review and make sure we have the correct type of plan and that all of the assets are correctly titled in the trust.

Another thing that would make you want to change your estate plan is a change in a job situation. If the person retires, or if they change jobs, or if there is a significant change in income. If they were to move to a different state for a job or retirement then that would lead to us wanting to review. Other changes would be changes in situations with children, such as having more children, one of the children passing away or developing some special needs or some physical or mental disability that would cause us to want to take special care or caution with their inheritance. If they have grandchildren, we want to review and be sure the estate plan provides appropriately for the grandchildren. Changes in marriage for the person creating the trust and also for the beneficiaries would make you want to review your estate plan. If the beneficiaries are getting married, we want to review the trust and makes sure that everything is done appropriately.

Lastly, you might want to make changes to who would be responsible to manage the estate plan as far as trustee or power of attorney or guardians. This commonly happens if people do their estate plan when their children are younger. When their children reach adulthood, it’s very common to change the estate plan to give the children responsibility once the children become adults. All of these life events are the kinds of things that would cause us to review an estate plan and possibly to change it.


How Often Should I Update My Estate Plan? Is It Just For Life Events?

Updates should be for life events. I advise that people review their estate plan every three to five years. For my clients, I do complimentary reviews for them any time they think that there may be some changes that would affect their plan. We get together and we go over their plan and talk about what it does and talk about the changes that have happened in their lives and see if it would be beneficial for them to make changes. If everything is good as it is then there is no fee to the clients for doing that

What Can And Cannot Be Changed In An Estate Plan?

Almost anything can be changed in an estate plan. The only things that we don’t change, first, is the name of the trust. The reason for that is that the name of a trust is kind of like the name of a corporation. If it has a person’s name in it and that person has passed away, for instance at the death of one spouse, we don’t need to take that person’s name off the name of the trust. If we were to change the name of the trust we would have to re-title all of the assets into the new name, so it becomes more trouble than it is worth, so we usually don’t change that. Secondly, sometimes when one spouse dies, a portion of the trust becomes irrevocable and there are some things at that point which cannot be changed; that happens in less than 10% of the marital trusts out there. This is done for tax planning purposes or for distribution purposes if it’s a blended family and if the husband and wife each have their own children prior to marriage. Other than those two situations, a person can change anything they want in their estate plan as long as they are living and have the capacity.

For more information on Updating An Estate Plan In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (626) 385-6303 today.

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