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Is it time for a Refresh and Remodel? Take a Quick Checkup.

Let’s face it – pretty much everything in your life eventually needs to be refreshed or remodeled. The kitchen, once shiny and glamourous, has a cracked tile or a stained countertop where little Janie or Jack decided to try out the cool tie-dye kit from Christmas.

Just like a home, sometimes the original plans you made for your estate are no longer in line with the place you are now in your life.  It may be time to update the plan to match your current situation.  When is the last time you took a look at that stack of papers you got from your attorney?  Chances are, it’s been just too long.

I know it was difficult enough to get it done the first time – and you were hoping that it was something you wouldn’t have to think about ever again.  However, take a minute and think about all the changes that may have happened in your life since you created your plan…

  • Maybe you have moved, or purchased a home for the first time.   If you only have a will your family isn’t protected from the long and costly probate process if you were to pass away.
  • Perhaps you’ve had an addition to your family (or maybe more than one).  Have you taken the time to add them as one of your beneficiaries to inherit from your estate?  Or maybe you’ve experienced a deletion from your life (divorce) – it’s critical to revoke any old trusts and execute your own wishes and desires.
  • Is your trust aligned with the current laws and the most efficient strategies to protect your assets?  Laws change all the time.  If your trust is 7 years or older, there may be different choices in how to structure your plan, perhaps more advantageous to you and your beneficiaries.
  • Did assets change?  Are you certain that all the titled assets are properly named in your trust?  If they aren’t named correctly, they are not in the trust and could be subject to probate.
  • Is your power of attorney more than two years old, and the bank may not accept it? Is the person you named back then still the one you want taking care of your finances and health?

Of course you wouldn’t want to sell your home in a state where it is worn down and not worth as much.  Like anything else we own, our estate plan needs to be reviewed and refreshed.  Perhaps just a few things need to be replaced.  Maybe a whole new strategy is needed, and a complete remodel is in order.  Take the time to pull out that dusty binder and read it through.  The time you take now to assure things are the way you want them will be well worth it, in the protection and peace of mind it gives your family when they really need it.  With family and friends coming in to town for the upcoming holidays, now is a good time to get your plan in order and maybe bring mom or dad along for a checkup too!

Written by Jeffrey C. Nickerson

Jeff Nickerson is an Estate Planning Attorney with The Law Office of Jeffrey C. Nickerson, located at 29970 Technology Drive, Suite 209, in Murrieta. For further information, call 951-200-4921.

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