“Check the Oil, Rotate the Tires, and Update Your Estate Plan,” says Silicon Valley Wills Lawyer

By Gary Brainin, Silicon Valley wills lawyer

If you own a car, you know it requires regular maintenance in order to perform well and be reliable. When you purchased your car, you probably received a recommended schedule for service. If you follow that schedule, most likely your car will continue to work well. If you don’t follow that schedule, you are taking the chance that your car will let you down.

Did you know that your estate plan also needs to be “serviced” on a regular basis? Your estate plan is a snapshot of your life the way it was at the time it was created. However, over time your family structure, your assets, and the tax laws change, so you should set a schedule to have your plan reviewed to make sure it doesn’t let you down.

So, when should you have your estate plan serviced? Any change in your personal, family, financial, or health situation should prompt you to review your estate plan. But, in general, I recommend that you pick a date that you will remember to review the plan each year. Your cue to remember this might be a birthday or anniversary… just any date that will jog your memory and allow you time to sit and read through your plan.

If you think a change is needed, do not write on your estate plan. You should contact your Silicon Valley wills lawyer. Hopefully, your attorney operates like us and does not charge for quick questions such as these. You should be able to pick up the phone and speak to your attorney to ask whether your plan needs a tune-up.

You should also make sure that your Silicon Valley wills lawyer will review your plan with you at no charge at least every three years. There are some things that might impact your plan that you don’t know about, such as changes in federal or state laws.

As a guide, I have listed a few events where you might want to review your plan:

You and Your Spouse

  • You marry, divorce, or separate
  • Your or your spouse’s health declines
  • Your spouse dies
  • Value of your assets changes dramatically
  • Change in business interests
  • You buy real estate in another state

Your Family

  • Birth or adoption
  • Marriage or divorce
  • Finances change
  • Parent/relative becomes dependent on you
  • Minor becomes adult
  • Attitude toward you changes
  • Health declines
  • Family member dies

Other

I hope that this list gives you an idea of whether you need your plan reviewed. If you are no longer in touch with your Silicon Valley wills lawyer, we welcome you to call our office and let us know that you need an Estate Plan Checkup, and we’ll be happy to review your plan with you at no charge.

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