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When to revise estate plans

California residents may be interested to learn that only approximately half of senior citizens have created a will to distribute their assets. The number of adults with a comprehensive estate plan is even lower. Some people are not aware of the importance of creating a living will, health care directive or powers of attorney in addition to a basic will or trust document. Every bit as important as creating an estate plan is knowing when to modify it. Experts recommend reviewing estate plans every few years, as tax laws and life situations change, to ensure that it continues to meet ongoing needs.

One of the most common reasons to modify an estate plan is when a new family member is born or marries into the family. Sometimes there might be a dear friend that a person wishes to leave funds to, or the person might become involved in a charity. Similarly, there are situations when a person might wish to cut someone out of a will, such as when a family member divorces. If an intended beneficiary dies, it may be necessary to rewrite those bequests and assign them to someone else. A co-trustee or executor may need to be replaced as time passes.

A change in relationships is not the only reason to revise an estate plan. Over time, a person's health care goals could also change. New tax or estate laws may require documents to be updated to help provide greater benefits when the estate is distributed.

An attorney may be able to sit down with California residents to discuss their estate planning goals. Once a plan is established, the attorney may be able to help draft an estate plan and help notify family members that the plan exists.

Source: Explorer News, "Six reasons to take a fresh look at your estate plan", June 25, 2014

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