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When Do I Need to Update My Will or Trust?

California Estate Planning Team

Finishing your estate plan is a great first step that offers you and your loved one’s peace of mind. Remember, though, your estate plan will need to be revisited periodically and after major life events.

Which family situations warrant an estate plan change?

 Significant changes in your family situation often require at least a review of your estate plan. Common changes include:

  • If you or one of your beneficiaries gets married, set aside some time to review your estate plan with your attorney. You may want to include the new spouse in your estate plan or clarify that your assets only go to the named individuals, not their spouses.
  • Whether you get divorced or one of your beneficiaries gets divorced, review your estate plan promptly. Otherwise, you risk some of your hard-earned assets going to someone who is no longer part of the family.
  • Birth or adoption of a child. Adding a new family member is a joyous occasion. Review your estate plan every time this happens to make sure you are providing for them after your passing.
  • The estrangement of a family member. Family disputes often require, at minimum, a review of your estate plan. Serious issues often mean amending or rewriting your estate planning documents.
  • Death of a beneficiary. After the death of a beneficiary, revisit your estate plan, and reallocate their portion of their assets.

Do I need to update my estate plan if my income or assets change? 

A major change in income level or assets is another situation that calls for an estate plan review. If you gain assets, such as real estate or retirement accounts, you may need to transfer those assets to a trust, include them in your will, or add named beneficiaries. If your income changes significantly, you may want to meet with an estate planning attorney to determine how to allocate extra money to meet your goals.

This is also true if you experience an unexpected windfall or begin building multiple income streams. If you start a business, you will want to look over your estate plan to determine how the business will be distributed after your death. If you inherit assets after a loved one’s death, decide how those assets will be accounted for in your estate plan.

What happens to my estate plan if I move? 

If you move states, you absolutely need to review your estate plan. Every state sets its own laws regarding succession, estate taxes, and other aspects of estate planning. The documents and entities you created in your former state of residence may be invalid in your new state. Set up an appointment with an estate planning lawyer in your new state, and make sure to bring copies of all of your documents for review. They can help you make sure that your estate plans meet the requirements of your new state.

Should I change my estate plan if my health declines? 

If your or your spouse’s health declines, an estate plan review is highly recommended. You may want to free up assets to pay for your long-term care needs or medical expenses, ensure that you have the proper paperwork in place for your medical needs, or assign someone to handle your legal needs if you become incapacitated.

How often should I do a regular check of my estate plan? 

Even if your life circumstances do not change significantly, you should regularly review your estate plan to ensure that it still meets your needs, provides for those who rely on you, and includes the assets that you want to be distributed after your death. Recommendations vary, but many experts suggest reviewing your plan every three to five years.

Contact Us for Estate Planning Advice Today

At Gullotta Law Group, we believe in building lasting relationships with our clients. Wherever you are in your estate planning journey, we are here to help you. To schedule your free consultation, contact us online or call our team at 707-938-7234.

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