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Spring Cleaning Your Finances: A Fresh Look at Your Estate Plan

Spring is a time of renewal, energy, and optimism. It’s also tax season. When you take those facts together, it’s obvious why spring is the perfect time to clean up your financial situation. That includes closely examining your estate plan and updating it as needed.

If you dread the process of estate planning, you’re not alone. No one likes to think about dying, but having a current, clear estate plan is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family. 

You may not be able to lessen their grief, but you can a least help them avoid the stress of dividing your assets themselves. Here’s a quick rundown of when you should make critical changes to your plan. 

You Have a New Child

If you’ve welcomed a new child into your life since you last looked at your estate plan, you should make changes as soon as possible. There are two crucial considerations to make. 

One of these is laying out what your child will inherit in the event of your death. Another is determining who will be your child’s guardian if you pass away and the child’s other parent is unable to have full custody.

Of course, any time you appoint someone as your child’s potential guardian, you should talk to them first. Make sure they fully understand the responsibility and that they’re comfortable taking it on.

Once you’ve appointed a guardian, you should continue to make sure that person remains willing and able to raise your children if the unthinkable were to happen. If something changes, update your estate plan as quickly as possible.

You’ve Purchased a Home

Buying a home is exciting. It’s easy to get so caught up in the present that you forget it’s also important to plan for the future. You should make sure you clearly outline who should receive your home after your death. If you don’t, your surviving family members may spend months in court fighting over it.

There Has Been a Major Change in Your Finances

For most people, finances shift as they move through life. Small changes — like getting a minimal raise at a job — usually don’t mean you need to revamp your whole estate plan. However, if you’ve seen a significant change in income or have gotten a large financial windfall like an inheritance, it’s always a good idea to update your estate plan.

You’ve Gotten Married or Divorced

Marriage and divorce are both major events, so it’s easy to see how you could forget to revisit your estate plan in the event of either. However, in many cases, this is one of the most crucial elements to keep current. 

Many married people list their spouse as their power of attorney if they were to become incapacitated. If an ex-spouse is listed on your will as your medical power of attorney, it can cause a significant amount of confusion among family members and other loved ones if it ever goes into effect.

Likewise, if you’ve gotten married, you probably want to make sure your spouse is the beneficiary of at least some of your wealth upon your death. This is also a great time to update insurance policies.

The Right Attorney Can Help Clean Up Your Estate Plan

Keeping an updated estate plan is essential — whether you have considerable assets or very little. However, to make sure that asset distribution goes smoothly for your heirs, it’s wise to entrust the creation of your estate plan to a qualified attorney.

At OC Wills and Trusts in Orange County, our estate planning attorneys have spent decades helping people like you. Spring is the perfect time to create or update your estate plan. Get in touch today for your free consultation.

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.