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When should you update your estate plan?

Having an estate plan could help you and your loved ones avoid confusion and conflict in the later years of your life and after your demise. However, having a plan in place may not safeguard against issues if the plan does not undergo regular review and updates. Some individuals may find it prudent to update estate plans at least once a year.

Though you may not change your mind on all aspects of the plan, life changes could easily present the need for updates to certain terms. Some reasons to make changes to an existing plan are:

  • Marriage - If you created your plan as a single individual, you may have listed family members or friends as beneficiaries to your assets. However, if you get married, you will likely want to include your spouse in your estate plans. As a result, you may need to add his or her name as a beneficiary, give power of attorney rights or ensure that your spouse's name appears in other necessary areas of your plan.
  • Children - After marriage, many individuals also gain a baby carriage. If you have children, including them in your estate plans will likely land as a top priority. Because you undoubtedly want your children cared for in the best manner possible in the event of your demise, you can use your estate plan to name guardians for your kids. Additionally, as with a spouse, you can add your children as heirs and beneficiaries.
  • Divorce - Though you likely wanted to ensure that your spouse had all the necessary access to your assets and the ability to give you the proper care, that want quickly ends when divorce takes place. Because no one wants an ex-spouse to inadvertently end up inheriting part of an estate meant for someone else, taking steps to remove an ex-spouse as beneficiary may prove wise.
  • Illness - While healthy, you may have a difficult time properly planning for the possibility of needing long-term care. If you discover that you have a serious illness, become injured or have other similar changes in health, you may have a better idea of how you would like your care administered. Therefore, updating your estate plan to include health care instructions could help you and your family avoid the stress of contemplating difficult decisions later on.

If you are uncertain as to what other life changes could potentially give cause for estate plan updates, you may wish to speak with your legal counsel. California attorneys could provide reliable advice and help guide you through your updates and ensure that your plans reflect your wishes.

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