Whether you have a trust-based or will-based estate plan, it is a good idea for you (and your spouse, if applicable) and your attorney to review the plan to make sure that, as you get older, your needs and asset distribution wishes match what is provided in the estate plan documents.  So, just how often should you review your estate plan documents? 

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to review your estate plan documents every five to ten  years AND every time there is a life changing circumstance or event, such as birth of a child, divorce, death of a spouse, death of a beneficiary of your estate plan, or a significant change in assets.  Once you create the estate plan, you need to take care of it. You should really think of an estate plan like an organic thing, e.g., a house plant, the family dog, etc. Taking care of your estate plan includes taking it off the shelf for review and possible revision from time-to-time.  The point is, if you are to continue to have a healthy estate plan (which you probably paid good money for) you need to pay attention to it and update it and, more importantly, make sure that you know how your estate plan operates upon your incapacity, and ultimately, upon your death.

Even if a life changing event does not occur, it is a good idea to review your estate plan with your attorney about every five to ten years.  The reason is two-fold.  First, and it goes without saying, we are all getting older.  Our circumstances change, goals change, and priorities change in time as we get older.  A periodic review of your estate plan will ensure that as you age your estate plan stays current with not only your needs and wishes but also California State law and federal law.  Second, the review of your estate plan is a good idea just to make sure that you remember how your estate plan operates, not only upon your incapacity but also upon your death. 

Most certainly, if you do experience a life changing event, use that event as good cause for reviewing your estate plan.  This can be a hard thing to remember to do but it is important.  Life changing events can change the way your estate plan operates and in order to ensure that your estate plan will meet your needs and wishes upon your incapacity and upon your death, have it reviewed after every life changing event.

Ultimately, the estate plan that you have (or will create) is a very personal thing.  Estate planning can be expensive. However,  it is well worth the money you paid (or will pay) to have it developed, drafted, and implemented if, and only if, you periodically have it reviewed by an estate planning attorney and remind yourself how it operates.  Any person who has an estate plan and has not had it reviewed in the last five to ten years or following a life changing event, should contact the Chilina Law Firm or another California attorney focusing on estate planning to have the estate plan reviewed.

Authored by Karen Chilina and Co-Authored by Greg Chilina

Chilina Law Firm, a Professional Corporation, is a full-service estate planning, probate, trust administration, business law, and real property law firm that provides a wide-range of advising, transactional, and litigation services to its clients from its office located in Atascadero, California. The firm’s attorneys represent individuals and business entities in an assortment of transactional and litigation matters involving estate planning (including trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives), probate, trust administration, as well as general business law, contracts, corporate governance, land use, and real property. Chilina Law can be contacted by telephone at (805) 538-5038 or by email atinfo@chilinalaw.comor visit the Chilina Law Firm atwww.chilinalaw.com. Chilina Law Firm is based in Atascadero, California and serves North San Luis Obispo County communities, including Santa Margarita, Atascadero, Templeton, Paso Robles, and San Miguel.

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