Estate planning is a crucial aspect of personal, property and financial management that often takes a back seat in our busy lives. Many individuals create an estate plan and consider it a one-time task. However, the truth is that it is important to regularly update your estate plan so that it continues to agree with your wishes and change as your life, circumstances, and laws change.

  1. Reflects Your Life Events: Life is constantly changing, and so are your circumstances. Major life events such as marriages, divorces, births, and deaths can significantly impact your financial situation and relationships. Regularly updating your estate plan ensures that it accurately reflects your current family structure, beneficiaries, and distribution preferences.
    Remains Current as your Asset change: Your asset situation is likely to change. Increases or decreases in assets or fluctuations in the market can all impact the overall value of your estate. Periodic reviews of your estate plan allow you to make necessary adjustments to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are adequately provided for.
  2. Advantages of Ever-Changing Tax Laws and Regulations: Tax laws are subject to change, and these changes can have a significant impact on your estate. Regular updates to your estate plan help you take advantage of new tax-saving opportunities and ensure that your plan remains tax-efficient. Staying informed about the latest legal developments is crucial to making well-informed decisions regarding your estate.
  3. Avoids Confusion on Beneficiary Designation: Many assets, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, require designated beneficiaries. It’s essential to review and update these designations regularly, especially in the event of life changes such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of children. Failing to update beneficiary designations, and failing to name alternative (secondary) beneficiaries, could result in unintended consequences and disputes.
  4. Ensures Healthcare Wishes: Healthcare directives and powers of attorney are critical components of an estate plan. Changes in health, medical advances, and evolving personal preferences may necessitate updates to these documents. Regular reviews ensure that your healthcare wishes are accurately documented and that the designated individuals are still suitable to make decisions on your behalf.
  5. Avoids Family Disputes: A clear and updated estate plan helps minimize the potential for family disputes. Clearly outlining your wishes and keeping your loved ones informed can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts that may arise in the absence of a well-maintained estate plan.

Regularly updating your estate plan is not just a legal task but a commitment to protecting your legacy and ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes.
Life is unpredictable, and staying proactive in managing your estate plan is a responsible and thoughtful investment in your future and the well-being of those you love. Take the time to review and update your estate plan regularly, and consult with legal and financial professionals to ensure that it remains a comprehensive and accurate given your current intentions.

“Serving Lake and Mendocino Counties for nineteen years, the Law Office of Dennis Fordham focuses on legacy and estate planning, trust and probate administration, and special needs planning. We are here for you. 870 South Main Street Lakeport, California 95453-4801. Phone: 707-263-3235.”