Please allow us to be frank. It’s unrealistic to think that a piece of paper you draft today, reflecting your life at a certain time, will work when your life has completely changed some years later. We’ll use the Jones family as a theoretical example.
Meet the Jones
Meet Bill and Karen Jones. They got their first estate plan in place when their daughter, Jessica, was born 30 years ago. They updated it when their son Steve came along 4 years later. After attending one of our living trust seminars 10 years ago, they got a fantastic trust-based plan in place, protecting themselves, their children, their grandchildren, and their dog, Sadie.
Unfortunately, the Jones didn’t maintain any contact with our firm nor subscribe to our newsletter. Instead, they elected to take responsibility for calling us for updates one every 5 years or so. Unfortunately, life got busy and, as you might guess, they never called to update their documents.
Here’s what’s changed in their lives in a short 10-year period of time:
- Clients children — Jessica and Steve are now adults and have graduated from college.
- Jessica is married and has two daughters. One of the girls may have autism.
- Steve is also married, and he and his wife are expecting their first child.
- Karen’s mother is now living with Bill and Karen and may need long-term Medi-Cal care.
- Bill and Karen bought a vacation home in Florida.
- Sadie had a litter of puppies but has since passed away. Bill and Karen kept two of the puppies.
Do you think their estate plan will still work the way they want it to?
Changes in Your Own Life
The Jones have experienced a lot of changes, but those changes are typical of what 10 years brings. Think about the changes in your life over the past 10 years — or since you last updated your estate plan.
Have you moved? Do you have more children or grandchildren? Have you lost a child or family member (God forbid). Have you started a business, suffered health problems, or purchased a new home? Do you have new accounts and investments? Do you now care for a parent with potential long-term care issues, pets, or dependent children? Have you remarried, gotten divorced, or retired? Have friends or family named in your plan as trusted helpers moved away, or has your relationship changed? Are your children now adults and able to help you? Do you want to help with grandchildren’s college or dance lessons? Do you see the world in a different way?
Many things have happened in the past 10 years. Your estate plan needs to reflect the changes in your personal life, financial situation, and goals. There have also been changes in the law. We stay abreast of these changes and new laws that can have a profound effect upon your estate plan.
Is Your Estate Plan Out of Date?
If you’ve experienced changes like the Jones, or it’s been more than 3 to 5 years since you updated your estate plan, it’s time to come in. We’ll review your plan and chat with you about what’s been happening in your life. We can get you and your estate plan up to date, reflecting where your life is now. Call your neighborhood Estate Planning Attorney – Jeffrey Hall at (925) 230-9002 to schedule an appointment or you may visit his website at www.HallLawGroup.com.
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Disclaimer: this article is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice nor the establishment of an Attorney-Client relationship.