Berge & Berge, LLP Blog

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Benefits of Updating Your Estate Plan Periodically

Do I Need to Update My Estate Plan?

People can be reluctant to undertake the estate planning process because they associate it with planning for events they do not want to think about (like illness or death). Not planning for these events, however, will not prevent them from happening. Once these documents are completed, they need to be updated periodically; after all, people change over time, as does their health, financial situation, wants and plans for the future. These are not documents that should be packed away and forgotten.

Plan Periodic Reviews

At the least, you should review your planning documents (wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills) every five years. What may have been perfectly sensible five years ago may no longer be appropriate. If not, make changes. Many experts even recommend an annual review which you should schedule around your birthday so it’s not easily forgotten. 

Update with Major Changes 

These documents should be reviewed and adjusted when a major life event happens. This could be a divorce, re-marriage, death of a spouse or child, birth of a grandchild or any drastic change (good or bad) in your finances.

Once your planning documents are completed to your satisfaction, make sure they are organized and do not treat them like they are top secret. Consider taking the following steps: 

• Health care directives should be sent to your physician, become a medical order and be part of your chart at your local hospital. 

• If trusts are created or changed, your real estate title and financial accounts may also need to be changed.

• Store your health care directives electronically where designated family members can easily access them in the event of an emergency.

• Discuss your wishes and details of your estate plan with your loved ones. 

According to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, a recent survey of a thousand adults by the website found,

• 55% said their parents have completed some kind of planning document.

• Nearly a quarter of people with elderly parents don’t know where their parents’ estate documents are kept, and 

• 44% didn't know the contents of the documents.

If you have any questions or concerns about estate planning or want to update your estate plan, the San Jose and Santa Clara County California estate planning and elder law attorneys at Berge & Berge can help. Call the firm at (408)985-9918.

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