Creating a comprehensive and cohesive estate plan is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to both yourself and to your loved ones. An estate plan that functions as intended will protect your assets and help them grow over the course of your lifetime as well as ensure that your loved ones are provided for in the event of your death or incapacity. If you have an estate plan in place already, you are ahead of the majority of Americans; however, you are not done yet. In fact, reviewing and revising your existing estate plan is just as important as creating the initial plan because an out of date estate plan can wreak havoc on your estate if something happens to you. The Riverside elder law attorneys at Dennis M. Sandoval, A Professional Law Corporation explain when you should update your estate plan to ensure that you, your assets, and your loved ones are protected.
When Should You Conduct a Routine Update?
You should conduct routine reviews of your estate plan at various times over the course of your life just to make sure everything is in place and that no changes are necessary. The time frame between routine reviews is not set in stone; however, most elder law attorneys suggest routine reviews every three years until your children have all reached the age of majority. If you do not have children, a review every three years until about age 50 is a good rule of thumb. After your children are grown and/or you reach age 50, plan a review every three to five years until you are comfortably into your retirement years. At that point, a review every five to six years may be sufficient unless a life event precipitates a review sooner.
Life Events That Call for an Immediate Review
Certain life events should prompt an immediate update to your estate plan. Among those events are:
- Marriage – when you marry, you will likely want to include your new spouse in your estate plan. That may include changing the beneficiary designations on things such as your Will, retirement plans, and life insurance policies as well as changing fiduciary positions within your plan. The marriage of a child is also something that could trigger a review because your son/daughter-in-law could now stand to gain control over the inheritance you plan to leave your child.
- Divorce –one of the most common mistakes people make is forgetting to make changes to their estate plan after a divorce. Failing to update your plan after your divorce could result in an ex-spouse as the beneficiary of your estate assets.
- Birth and death of beneficiaries or fiduciaries — basically, the death of anyone who is part of your estate plan, as a beneficiary or fiduciary, is cause to review your plan. The birth of a child or grandchild should also be specifically noted in your plan to ensure your beneficiaries are properly identified.
- Children reach the age of majority – as the parent of minor children you had to protect your children’s inheritance because they could not inherit directly from your estate; however, once all your children are legal adults, you have the option to gift directly to them.
- A significant change in assets – minor changes should be accounted for in your plan; however, if you buy or sell a business, or valuable asset, you may need to review your estate plan.
- Retirement – when you retire, you may start withdrawing funds from retirement accounts and selling major assets which should warrant a review of your plan. In addition, if you have not yet considered the addition of Long Term Care Care Medi-Cal planning or planning for Veteran’s Aid and Attendance coverage (if you are a veteran who served during a time of war) to your estate plan, you will want to do so to ensure that you qualify if you need to down the road.
- Serious Illness – hopefully, your plan is already prepared to handle your incapacity or even a terminal illness; however, if you are diagnosed with a serious illness, a review of your estate plan is always a good idea. If your have not previously engaged in Long Term Care Medi-Cal planning or planning for Veteran’s Aid and Attendance benefits, you may need to engage in Crisis Planning at this stage.
Contact Riverside Elder Law Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns about elder law, estate planning or when to schedule a review of your estate plan, contact the experienced Riverside elder lawyers at Dennis M. Sandoval, A Professional Law Corporation by calling (951) 888-1460 to schedule an appointment. Dennis M. Sandoval is the only Certified Elder Law Attorney and Certified Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Specialist in Riverside County and San Bernardino County.