According to a recent Newsday article, “Make sure your estate plan keeps up with life changes, experts say,” estate planning may seem overwhelming and depressing, because it deals with issues of aging. Some people believe that estate planning is just for the very rich.
That’s not correct. Estate planning is for everybody. Make a plan to do it now, in order to avoid consequential fumbles. In California, if you do not plan your own estate, California has a statutory estate plan for the distribution of your estate that may or may not be what you want.
Let’s look at what you need to do.
Estate planning is a set of legal documents that state who will receive your assets and property when you pass away. It also specifies who you want to make medical decisions, and who should make financial decisions, if you are unable to do so yourself. If you have minor children, you can also name guardians for them.
This should make everything easier for your heirs at this stressful time, when they most need it.
Remember that estate planning isn’t a one-and-done proposition. It’s wonderful that you finally got your will finished and signed, and you have your medical directives in place along with a designated individual to have your authority via power of attorney.
However, that’s not the end of it. Your estate planning documents must keep pace with change.
It’s critical that you update the contingent (secondary) beneficiaries on life insurance policies after the first spouse dies.
The birth or adoption of a child and divorce are similarly important life events that will require you to review and update your estate planning documents.
Don’t assume that establishing joint tenancy (sharing ownership in personal property, like your family home) or joint ownership over financial accounts is enough to protect your assets.
Finally, work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: Newsday (March 4, 2018) “Make sure your estate plan keeps up with life changes, experts say”