The one constant in life is change. A lot can happen in one year: marriage, divorce, birth of a child or grandchild, death of a loved one, and so much more.
Many major life changes, including the four we just mentioned, warrant another look at your last Will and testament, trusts, power of attorney, and other estate planning documents. Let’s say, for instance, that you got a divorce in 2022. There’s a good chance your ex-spouse’s name is all over your estate plan. It’s unlikely that you would want your ex to act as your agent for health care power of attorney or be the recipient of a large inheritance.
In that case, you need to update your estate planning documents. Perhaps one of your children could act as an agent for a power of attorney arrangement. Whatever your preferences, you need to make it clear in the estate plan what you would like to happen; don’t count on the probate court to make everything right after you pass away.
Apart from a divorce, circumstances that require a review of your estate plan might be:
- Acquiring a large asset. You might need to include this asset in your Will or fund it into a trust.
- Marrying into a blended family. Intestate succession laws dictate how your estate will be divided among your heirs if you do not have an estate plan. Things can get complicated if you have multiple children from different marriages. Conflict may also arise between your biological children, step-children, and your widow if you do not make your intentions clear in your estate plan.
- Having one of your “helpers” passes away. In this context, a helper is someone tasked with helping carry out one or more aspects of your estate plan. This could be a trustee, executor of your Will, health care proxy, or power-of-attorney agent. If you did not name a backup helper, you will need to choose another competent adult and include them in your estate plan.
- Having a child. It’s not pleasant to think about, but you need to name a guardian who can raise your child if something were to happen to you and the child’s other parent. You should also arrange for someone to take care of your child’s inheritance until they become an adult. A guardianship of the estate or trust can be effective in that situation.
Even if it does not appear that your life has undergone major changes in the past couple of years, it is still a good idea to review your estate plan every three-to-five years. The overarching purpose is to ensure your estate plan reflects your intentions and goals. Otherwise, your most precious matters (such as your health, wellbeing, and prized assets) may end up in the hands of the wrong person.
The best way to make sure your estate plan truly reflects your life situation and goals is to partner with an experienced California estate planning attorney. Our team is committed to helping you protect your assets and providing a peace of mind as you live out your golden years. We’d love to speak with you during your free, no-obligation consultation, which you may request here.