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When should you update your estate plan?

Many people develop an estate plan when they first have children. They want to ensure that their kids are cared for by responsible adults and provided for financially if they pass away. However, too often, they then neglect to update those estate plans over the years.

An experienced California estate planning attorney will advise you to review your plan every few years or when a major life event occurs. However, they depend on their clients to tell them when a change occurs that may warrant a change in their plan.

Sometimes these changes are immediate, like a birth, death, marriage, divorce or move. Sometimes they are gradual, like children growing up and becoming independent or an accumulation of wealth over the years.

Following are just a few changes that may warrant a review of your estate plan to make sure that it's still fulfilling your intentions and is still working in the best interests of your family and other beneficiaries.

-- Relocation to another state: Every state's estate laws are unique. Whether you've moved into or out of California since your estate plan was set up, it's essential to have an estate planning attorney in your new home state review your plan to make sure that it complies with state laws.

-- Changes in philanthropic goals: Perhaps when you developed your estate plan, you didn't have any charitable organizations you felt passionately about. Perhaps you designated several charities, but one has disappointed you. It's always a good idea to review your philanthropic goals and make additions and changes to your estate plan as you desire.

-- When a fiduciary is no longer appropriate: Fiduciaries may be people or organizations who are names as trustees to control the assets in a trust that you've set up in your will. Executors are also fiduciaries. They are the ones responsible for administering the plan after your death as you've directed. Even if the people you've designated are still alive, you may determine that they're no longer responsible enough or able to do the job correctly.

If you have any question about whether a change in your life warrants a revisit of your estate plan, it's best to check with your attorney. He or she can advise you on whether a change is necessary and help you do adjust your plan accordingly.

Source: Fidelity, "Dust off your estate plan: 10 common pitfalls to avoid," accessed June 07, 2017

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