End-of-Year Checklist: Essential Items You Need to Include in Your Estate Plan

Creating an estate plan isn’t usually a one-and-done event. Estate plans require occasional reviews with an estate planning attorney to ensure documents are accurate and continue to reflect your desires. The end of the year is the perfect time to go over your estate plan and make any necessary changes.

Whether you have an estate plan that needs to be evaluated or you’re yet to start your estate plan, it’s vital to meet with an estate planning attorney. A lawyer can provide proper guidance and ensure your estate plan suits your needs

Essential Documents for Your Estate Plan

A complete estate plan involves several documents, not just one. All of these documents serve their own purpose.

Keep in mind that an estate plan isn’t just for making plans after your death. While planning for your passing is part of it, you should also create legal documents for other events, such as medical emergencies or incapacity.

An estate planning attorney can give you personalized guidance concerning the right legal documents to include in your plan. The following are just some of the most important ones to consider. 

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is perhaps the most well-known estate planning document. Your will provides direction regarding property and asset distribution after your passing. You can also leave instructions for minor children and pets and who is to take on responsibility for their care.


A trust is a document creating a fiduciary relationship between your intended beneficiary and your chosen trustee. The trustee holds certain assets on behalf of the beneficiary and only releases these assets according to your plan. 

There are several different types of trusts, like living trusts or irrevocable trusts. Depending on your needs and goals, you can have one or more trusts to satisfy your wishes. 

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document giving your chosen agent the power to act on your behalf. Should you be unable to do certain things for yourself, like in the event of incapacity, your agent can step in and handle certain tasks, including handling finances and healthcare needs. 

Living Will

A living will, also called an advanced healthcare directive, details your desires concerning medical care in the case that you cannot. When you have a living will, your wishes are respected, and you don’t have to burden a spouse or family member. 

Yearly To-Dos to Ensure Your Estate Plan Remains Accurate

When you have an estate plan, the end of the year is the right time to analyze your estate plan. Doing so can help you determine whether your estate plan requires any alterations to ensure it is as you want it. 

Read Through Your Estate Planning Documents

After some time, it’s common to forget what’s in your estate plan. Therefore, you should keep a copy handy to review at least once a year. Go over every document, and make sure the information within is correct and continues to reflect your needs. 

Review Any Major Life Changes

Major life events often prompt the need for change. Everything from marriage and divorce or births and deaths can signal it’s time to alter your plans. 

Take Inventory of Your Assets

Your estate plan includes detailed information regarding your property and assets. As time goes on, you may lose and sell assets or add to your list, which all require you to revisit and adjust your plan. 

Discuss Your Estate Plan With an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Taking the time to review your estate plan is a crucial task that is worth your time. When you need assistance creating, analyzing, or revamping your estate plan, consult with a skilled estate planning attorney at OC Wills & Trusts. We proudly serve clients in Orange County, CA. Contact our firm to discuss your plan today. 

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.