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Keeping your estate plan current is essential

Having an estate plan is wise for those who want to ensure that their wishes for the dispensation of their assets are carried out after their death. With an estate plan, you can also designate who will make decisions regarding legal, financial and health matters for you if you are unable to do these things for yourself.

Business owners should have a particular interest in having an estate plan in place in order to ensure that their business transfers to the person(s) they choose after death and that it continues to run as they would like regardless of what happens to them.

However, just putting an estate plan in place isn't enough. Californians need to make sure that their estate plan is current. If, as we all hope, we have many productive years ahead of us after we draft our estate plan, we will likely need to amend it over the years.

Therefore, it's troubling that a survey of more than 260 entrepreneurs, all successful, found that while nearly all of them have some sort of estate plan (at least a will), 85 percent of their plans were at least 5 years old.

With all of the changes in tax laws, that means that these entrepreneurs' plans weren't as tax-efficient as they should be. Of course, that also means that many of them had changes in their families (such as births, marriages and divorces) that their plans don't reflect. They also don't reflect changes in wealth since the plans were put into place.

No matter the size of your estate or whether you own a business or not, it's essential that you review your estate plan regularly and notify your California estate planning attorney whenever you've had a change that you think could impact your plan.

Source: Forbes, "Most Successful Entrepreneurs Have Out Of Date Estate Plans," Russ Alan Prince, accessed Nov. 03, 2017

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