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Does your estate plan really express your wishes?

Surveys and studies continue to confirm that fewer than half of Americans over the age of 55 have created an estate plan. This means many people must deal with the stress and frustration of taking their loved one's estates through probate and trying to guess their loved one's intentions for the end of life.

Congratulations to you for saving your family this heartache by establishing an estate plan. Your plan may be as simple as a will or contain the complexities of trusts, powers of attorney and final instructions. Just one question: How long ago did you make your plans?

A worthless piece of paper

If you haven't revisited your estate plan recently, you may be surprised at how much things have changed. Does your will bequeath to a loved one a piece of property you no longer own? Perhaps you still own the property, but your loved one has died. These are just some of the changes in life that may require a fresh look at your estate plan. Others include the following:

  • You or your heirs have married, divorced or remarried.
  • You have new children, grandchildren, stepchildren or in-laws you wish to add to your will.
  • You have become ill or lost your job, resulting in a reduction in the assets in your original plan.
  • You have bought or sold a business or home, or moved to another state.
  • You have simply reconsidered your current plans.

The reasons for reviewing an estate plan are as numerous and unique as the people who create the plans. Leaving an estate plan unattended could result in undeserving people obtaining your assets and those who are dear to you could end up unintentionally left out.

Keeping your estate plan current and complete

The effort it took to overcome any anxiety or emotions to establish an estate plan may all be for nothing if you leave the plan to become obsolete over time. Rarely does a life carry on without change. People come and go, relationships strengthen and weaken and personal convictions may shift as time passes. Leaving your estate plan without review or revision may mean it will no longer accord with your true wishes.

Meeting with your California estate-planning attorney periodically will keep your plan current and allow you to make adjustments following major life events. Your attorney will assist you in keeping your documents up-to-date so that your loved ones will have a clear picture of your intentions and you will have peace of mind.

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Pape & Shewan, LLP
642 Pollasky Avenue
Suite 200
Clovis, CA 93612

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Fax: 559-299-0920
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