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When Should I Have My Estate Plan Reviewed By An Attorney?

When Should I Have My Estate Plan Reviewed By An Attorney?

When you’ve worked so hard to amass your properties and assets, the next thing you should do is make sure your hard work pays off in the way you intend. Whether that means following a succession plan, taking care of your loved ones, or supporting a charity, you will need an up-to-date estate plan. If you don’t do this, the court will decide what is done with your assets when you pass away.

Contrary to what we like to think, an estate plan isn’t just a one-time written, signed, witnessed, and notarized document that serves you until you die. Changes happen all the time, be it in your life, the lives of your loved ones, or in terms of the law. 

Reasons to Have An Attorney Review Your Estate Plan

For this reason, estate planning lawyers usually suggest an estate plan review every few years, or at the very least whenever there is a life event in your family oryou inherit wealth. One of the reasons for this is that laws which can affect your estate plan change frequently, especially as newly elected officials at federal and state levels make changes to policies, and Congress passes new legislation.

Whether you had our help drafting your initial estate plan or had it prepared elsewhere, an Orange County estate planning lawyer can help you review your estate plan to make sure it’s up to date and according to your current wishes.

One of the constants in life is change. Over time, people encounter changes in their relationships, family, their residential situation and their wealth. Life events such as birth, marriage and death occur. All of these life events influence one’s situation, wishes, and subsequently affect one’s estate plan.

Major Life Event

If you’ve experienced changes in your relationship such as divorce, death of a spouse, or remarriage, you will need to review your estate plan. 

In cases where your spouse is no longer available to oversee your estate after your death, you will need to find someone else, be it a child, or another loved one, to do the job in his or her place. And if you are recently married, you may want to designate your new spouse as co- trustee or successor of your estate.

Meanwhile, if you’ve had changes within your family, such as birth of a child or grandchild, adoption of a child, disowning of a child, or death of a child, you may also need to make adjustments to your estate plan. 

Additionally, if you or anyone in your family has a major illness, becomes disabled, or dies, you should revisit your estate plan to make sure your loved ones will be cared for in case something does happen to you. 

In the event that you or your trustee are unable to manage your estate, you can assign a corporate trustee to help manage your estate according to your wishes. If a trustee or beneficiary predeceases you, you must also revise your estate plans, to appoint a new successor trustee or possibly to redistribute your property among the beneficiaries.

Lastly, if you have moved into a different state or if your trustee or any one of your beneficiaries has relocated, you should check with an estate planning attorney to verify whether your estate plan will be affected and what changes you can make to accommodate such changes.

When people move to a different state, they will be subject to different state laws, some of which will affect your estate plan through their respective estate taxes. In such situations, it is best to find an experienced estate planning attorney to help you navigate the laws and make sure your beneficiaries will receive the inheritance you wish to leave them with.

Changes in the Law

Changes in the law happen all the time, which may directly affect estate taxes. This is especially the case when an election takes place.. As such, it’s important for you to make sure your trust is compliant with current laws.

When there are changes in estate taxes, your beneficiaries might be left to pay significantly more taxes than you originally intended. In such situations, it’s important to go over your estate plan with an estate planning attorney who will help you navigate the new estate taxation protocols. 

Of course, the opposite can also happen. There might be new laws and regulations that you can take advantage of. You can revisit old trusts or establish new ones to hold assets outside of your estate, allowing you to reduce the amount you pay in taxes. 

Acquisition of New Properties or Assets

Changes in your net worth also warrant a review of your estate plan. In time, you may purchase new life insurance coverage,more real estate, or even acquire other assets.. You might also start a business, declare bankruptcy, or even win the lottery.  Any of these developments will change your net worth and financial situation, directly affecting the amount of inheritance you can leave to your beneficiaries as well as your ability to inherit any amount of money from your spouse or other loved ones.

The distribution of your estate will vary depending on the number of beneficiaries you would like to leave your estate to.  Adding or deducting beneficiaries will require a change to your estate plan to reflect such changes.

Change Of Heart

Another reason why estate planning attorneys suggest regularly reviewing your estate plan is because people’s feelings change; Major life events may happen, relationships may develop or crumble. People you hold dear today may lose your favor in the future. A close relative may abruptly sever contact with you and refuse to allow your participation with family events, as one such example. While this may seem unlikely in your family, estate planning attorneys often receive the phone call from their client seeking to disinherit the relative in question.

Some people decide to change their beneficiaries or adjust the size of the inheritance they leave to the various beneficiaries often as a result of these changes in relationship. 

The people you trust to oversee your estate plan today may no longer have your confidence; you may no longer be on good terms with the guardian you initially chose to take care of your children; you may want to have a special needs trust created for your child, or remove an ex spouse as beneficiary of your assets due to a recent divorce.

Sometimes, people also have changes of heart and simply want to set things right, whatever form that may take. 

Review Your Estate Plan Today

If you have experienced any life changes or situations such as the ones mentioned above since your trust was prepared, don’t hesitate to work with an experienced estate planning attorney in Orange County. You can never anticipate when your estate plan will come into effect, so the best time to review your estate plan is always now if the idea of making changes is on your mind.
Reach out to an Orange County estate planning lawyer today and make sure your estate plan is written according to your wishes. We’ll help you feel assured that your loved ones will be  cared for and that the people you have chosen will benefit from your legacy.

Maria Parker assists her clients plan for their end of life health care wishes and the ultimate distribution of their wealth after death. She personally experienced the importance of planning at the time her father passed away.

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Wills & Trusts, Estate & Trust Administration, Probate, and Health Care Power of Attorney
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