For some people, a life event prompts them to create an estate plan. For example, getting married, having a baby or turning 40 may be monumental enough in a person's life to cause him or her to face mortality and write a will. If you are one of those people, congratulations! You are among the very few who take the time to express their wishes so that there are no questions about what to do with your estate when you are no longer living on this earth.
However, while one life event may have prompted you to execute your will, many life events may have transpired since then. An estate plan that was adequate all those years ago may not be as complete now that your life has taken so many twists and turns.
The days of your life
Very few people go more than a year without some major event taking place in their lives. Even if things remain status quo, the world changes. California lawmakers may have revised estate planning regulations since you made your plan, or new tools and options for securing your estate may be available. Some personal reasons why an estate plan review may be in order for you include:
- You married, divorced or remarried.
- You had a child, or you now have grandchildren.
- Someone in your family has died.
- You changed jobs or bought or sold a business.
- You have a special needs child who will require long-term care.
- You have bought or sold property for residential or investment purposes.
- You have gained interest in a charitable cause.
These are just a few of the many events that may trigger a desire to revise your estate plan. Additionally, if you have not created a durable power of attorney, either for your financial or medical care, you may take this opportunity to learn more about these vital documents.
One of the first tasks to complete as you review your estate plan is to ensure all your beneficiaries are up to date, especially on your pension plan, IRAs and life insurance policies. The wishes you express in your will may not supersede the designations on such accounts, so any outdated beneficiary designations may be honored despite your current plans. For example, if you still have an ex-spouse listed as a beneficiary on a policy, the benefits are likely to go to that person, even if you have remarried.
For the sake of consistency and to avoid any confusion during probate, estate planning advisors recommend checking each of your accounts for the correct title. If the name on your trust is different from the name on your accounts (for example, using a maiden name or a Junior), this inaccuracy may delay probate and cost your heirs money.
While these suggestions may seem overwhelming, the assistance of an estate planning attorney can provide answers to your questions and ensure you are current with every option available for your circumstances.