In this California estate planning blog, we've written many posts about the importance of having an estate plan and of not postponing the estate planning process. But the process isn't necessarily over when the will or trust has been drafted, signed and witnessed. Every estate plan should be reviewed periodically to make sure it is up to date, and still reflects the testator's wishes.
There is no set rule as to how often an estate plan should be reviewed. Some financial advisors suggest a thorough review at least every five years. Those with large estates may want to do an annual review. More importantly, an estate plan should be reviewed whenever there has been a major change in the law or the testator's life.
Changes in the law affecting one's estate should trigger an immediate review. California's Probate Code is amended from time to time, and federal and state tax laws are changed with some frequency. An estate plan that was drafted to take advantage of a particular provision of the tax code will have to be reviewed and possibly revised if that provision is amended or repealed.
Changes in one's life and fortunes should also trigger a review. A significant increase in the value of the estate can result in different treatment under the tax laws. Divorce or remarriage should always be followed by a review of one's estate plan. If you have moved to another state, it will be important to make sure your estate plan complies with and takes advantage of your new state's laws. The death or incapacity of a person you nominated as an executor, trustee or guardian may require revision of your will or trust.
A periodic review of an estate plan need not be complicated or expensive. An experienced estate planning attorney can answer questions about how often a review should be done and what is involved in conducting one.
Source: wmur.com, "Money Matters: The 'final' estate-planning step," Marc Hebert, Aug. 11, 2016