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Reviewing and revising an estate plan over time

Planning for the future is most often not a one-step process. Designating benefactors and executors, drafting a durable power of attorney and writing a will are some of the important elements on long-term planning, but each requires consistent revisiting and revision.

For prudent estate planners in California, it is crucial that you continue to maintain your plans throughout the course of your life. While taking the steps to create estate plans is a wise decision, thinking you've finished planning after that one step is a potentially devastating mistake. 

I recommend a review of your estate planning documents every three years.  If changes are necessary due to changes in laws or your personal circumstances, those changes can be made as part of the review process.  Even if no changes are necessary, you will have peace of mind knowing that your estate planning documents are still up to date.  

How often should a person revisit their estate plans? What are the factors that may influence the relevance of those plans? Remember some general tips and considerations as you work to create and maintain prudent estate planning over time.

Updating your estate plan

Once you put in the effort to create an initial estate plan, continual maintenance and revision is a crucial next step. Updating a will, trust or other planning documents can help ensure the relevance and applicability of your plans come time to use them. Some milestones may prompt an updated will, including:

  • A new marriage
  • The birth of children
  • Becoming a homeowner
  • Launching a new business venture
  • Loved ones moving or passing on
  • Going through a divorce
  • Major changes in personal assets and wealth
  • Developing health concerns and illness

While life's big changes should prompt an updated will and other planning documents, it's also best practice to continually revisit these plans every year or two. Changes in tax or estate law could mean plans need an update, so it isn't just the personal changes that may affect your long-term goals.

Avoiding mistakes with your estate

Estate planning can seem like an intimidating or daunting task for many, but the reality is that it's a crucial and convenient way to plan for the future of your life and the lives of your loved ones. Failing to revisit your plans or putting off planning for too long are far too common mistakes in estate planning practice.

Estate planning not only simplifies the probate process, it provides peace of mind that you, your assets and your loved ones have a plan in place down the line. Once you've taken the steps to create an estate plan, don't let that work go to waste by ignoring those plans for your remaining years.

An estate plan is essentially only as useful as it is relevant, which means consistent revisiting and revision is an important element of prudent long-term planning. Estate planning attorneys and experts are helpful resources as you determine your wishes and goals for the future. Make estate planning a priority in your financial and personal future to the benefit of yourself, your estate and your loved ones.

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