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The importance of updating your estate plan

Jan. 18, 2019

Creating an estate plan is an essential part of planning for your future, but it is by no means the final step in the process. Once you’ve taken the necessary step of formulating an estate plan, it is important to continue revisiting and updating your plans throughout your life.

An estate plan is only as useful as it is relevant, which means that an outdated plan can be detrimental to the proper execution of a person’s final wishes. An outdated will, trust or other element of an estate plan can derail the probate process in California and send loved ones on a long, potentially painful route to resolving disputes from the estate.

Consider the benefits to yourself, your loved ones and your long-term goals as you create and maintain an estate plan. There are a few essential times to update an estate plan throughout your life, though regular checkups are a prudent component of prioritizing your plans.

Important times to update your estate plan

After creating an initial estate plan, it’s wise to continue to monitor the various elements over time with some regularity. Revisit your estate plan every year or two to ensure it remains relevant to your changing circumstances. Changes in federal and state law may impact the effectiveness of your estate plan, though an attorney and financial adviser can help with those hurdles.

In addition to regular checkups, there may be some life milestones that prompt an updated will, trust or other estate planning documents, including:

  • Getting married

  • Having kids or grandchildren

  • Purchasing a home

  • Starting a new business

  • Moving to a new city or state

  • Investing in real estate or making other major investments

  • Changes in personal wealth and assets

  • Getting divorced

  • Leaving a business

  • Worsening health or developing illnesses

  • Losing a loved one

Both positive and negative events can have an effect on your long-term plans. When thinking about your future goals and wishes, it’s important that your current circumstances match with your plans to ensure their effectiveness.

Estate planning through the years

Once you create an estate plan, don’t let that work and consideration go to waste by failing to maintain the plan over time. While the effects of estate planning can feel as though they are a long way away, too many people pass on every year in California without thinking about the future for themselves, their assets or their loved ones.

A litigious probate process can an undue burden during an already challenging grieving period. Consider the benefits for yourself and loved ones as you create and maintain an estate plan.