Cleaning Up Your Estate Plan

We write our estate plans to stand the test of time. We include clauses that cover digital life, pets and even heirs and beneficiaries that haven’t been born yet. If you never looked at your estate plan again, you would still be protected.

But it never hurts to look at it again and update it.

First let’s review what an estate plan is. An estate plan is a group of different legal documents that work together to protect you in case anything should happen.  There is a Power of Attorney if you become incapacitated, and a Healthcare Directive, for your end-of-life decision, plus much more.

The whole plan works together. If one piece is out of date, you should review the whole plan and update any part that may be out-of-date or no longer reflect your wishes.

Here are some good reasons to review your estate plan.

  1. Buying property
  2. Birth of a child or grandchild
  3. Death of someone in your estate plan
  4. Divorce, either your own, or that of one of your heirs and/or beneficiaries

If none of these have happened to you, it is still a very good idea to follow up with your estate attorney every 5-7 years.

If you do need to update your estate plan there are two ways to go about doing it. First, is with an attorney’s help. Second, is doing it yourself.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Has someone in your plan passed away? You may need to remove a POA or beneficiary designation due to the death of that person.
  2. Has one of your loved ones had a child? Have you thought about leaving that child a gift when you pass?
  3. Do you want to disinherit a family member? You may no longer have a good relationship with your daughter and want to change what you give her.
  4. Are there specific gifts you want to give, but have not laid them out clearly? Specific gifts should be clearly put in your Trust.  Example: Grandpa’s watch, Grandma’s quilt, baseball card collection, and on and on.
  5. Have you bought a home?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you should talk to an attorney about updating your estate plan.

If someone in your estate plan has moved you don’t need an attorney’s help, but it is a good idea to write their new address on piece of a paper and put it in your estate planning binder. I understand not everyone uses a binder for their docs, but keep all your documents in the same place. You can add pages with phone numbers and addresses without needing an attorney’s help.

If you have opened bank accounts, make sure they are in the name of the trust. If they are not, it would be a good idea to find some time to go down to your local branch to make the change. Bring your trust docs and put the account in the name of trust.

If you have any questions give our office a call at 818.887.9401 and we can help you through it.

Keeping your documents up to date is important and “with a little planning you can avoid a lot of problems.”