Updating Your Estate Plan: When and Why You Should Review and Modify Your Documents

Making changes to an existing estate plan is a lot easier than starting with zero. For example, if you are writing a new version of your will, most of the provisions will probably be the same; you will only need to change a few provisions in the new version. Likewise, if you are establishing a trust for your newborn child, but this is not your first rodeo, establishing a trust for the new baby will be very similar to the process you went through to establish trusts for his older siblings. The more details of your estate plan you fine-tune, the more confidence you get about doing it. Even if you understand estate planning well, it is always a good idea to work with a Whittier estate planning lawyer when making changes to your estate plan.

Life Events That Call for a Reboot of Your Estate Plan

There is no such thing as a bad time to review your estate plan. The most diligent seniors review their estate plans every year, even when the year has been uneventful. Of course, for some people, the association of wills with mortality is so strong that they prefer just to formalize the will, lock it in the safe, and forget about it until something happens that warrants reviewing it or modifying it with a codicil.

Becoming a Parent

Even if you do not own any valuable property, but you have a child, you need to write a will to indicate your wishes about the child’s care in the event of your death. In practice, the provisions about your child’s care would not go into effect unless you and your child’s other parent both died while the child was a minor. If you do not indicate this in your will, then if your child lost both parents before reaching adulthood, it would be up to a judge’s discretion to determine which family member would get custody of the child.

It can never hurt to set up a revocable trust with your child as a beneficiary. In the very likely event that you are still around when your child reaches adulthood, the money will still be there in the trust, and you can decide what to do next from there.

Your Family Needs You More Than Ever

When you write your will, it is a good idea to list successors to the designated beneficiaries. For example, you can say, “My brother Brian shall inherit my house in Red Bluff. If he predeceases me, his daughter Bronwyn and son Branwell shall inherit the house.” When a beneficiary dies, the best way to avoid probate disputes is to rewrite your will. For example, after Brian dies, the testator might find out that Bronwyn and Branwell have no interest in inheriting the Red Bluff house, so the testator might sell the house. She might then rewrite her will leaving a different inheritance to Bronwyn and Branwell or may even disinherit them entirely.

Late in Life Marriage

One of the most common formats for a will goes, “If I predecease my spouse, my spouse inherits everything. If my spouse predeceases me, our children inherit everything.” Usually, both spouses write a will to this effect. Estate planning lawyers call this an “I love you will,” and it only works well if both spouses live to an advanced age. If you get remarried and one or both spouses have children from a previous marriage, it is a good idea to sign a prenuptial agreement that addresses inheritance and then rewrite your will so that it matches the prenuptial agreement.

Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum About Estate Planning

An estate planning attorney can help you modify your will and other estate planning documents to reflect a change in your circumstances. Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates APLC in Whittier, California to set up a consultation.

A Whittier estate planning lawyer can help you update your estate plan in the event of a marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a beneficiary of your will.