Crafting a comprehensive estate plan should be a top priority to ensure both your personal well-being and the financial security of your loved ones. A meticulously designed estate plan serves the dual purpose of safeguarding your assets while fostering their growth throughout your lifetime, all while providing assurance that your loved ones will remain financially secure if something happens to you. If you’ve already established an estate plan, you are ahead of most Americans. At some point, however, you may need to change something in your estate plan, but how do you make those changes? The Los Angeles attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC explain how to make common changes to your existing estate plan.
Review Your Estate Plan
Engaging in periodic, scheduled revisions of your estate is the best way to ensure that your plan works as intended. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all rule governing the frequency of such reviews, most estate planning professionals recommend routine updates every three to five years until all your children attain legal adulthood. Thereafter, schedule a routine review as you approach retirement and thereafter every five to ten years. Whether it is during a routine review or in between reviews, you may realize that you need to make a change to your estate plan. Just as it was important to work with an attorney when you created your original plan, you should also consult with your estate planning attorney before attempting to make any changes to your plan.
Common Estate Plan Changes
Routine changes to your plan will likely occur because your children get older, your estate grows, or your asset portfolio shifts. Immediate changes might be necessary because of a life event such as a divorce, the birth of a child, or a move to another state or country. Some common changes that might need to be made include:
- Changes to your Last Will and Testament. If you need to make changes to your Will you have two options: codicil or revocation. A codicil can be used if the changes you need to make are relatively minor. A codicil is simply a piece of paper on which you write down the changes you wish to make. You then sign the document in front of witnesses. A codicil should not be used for more extensive changes because the more complicated and/or numerous the changes are the more likely a mistake will be made using a codicil. If the changes you need to make are more complicated, you will need to revoke your existing Will and execute a new one with the changes included in the new document.
- Changes to a trust agreement. Changing a trust agreement can also be accomplished in two ways: a trust amendment or a trust restatement. Like making changes to your Will, the extent and complexity of the changes will dictate which method should be used. A trust amendment is much like a codicil for a Will in that you simply write out the changes you wish to make on a piece of paper, sign it, and attach it to the trust agreement. A trust restatement is effectively a new trust agreement; however, there is an important legal distinction between a restatement and a revocation. Restating the trust agreement does not legally result in the trust assets being transferred whereas a revocation does. To avoid taxation, always use a restatement if possible.
- Changing an Agent in a Power of Attorney. If you want to make changes to the Agent in a Power of Attorney or in the terms of POA it is best to revoke the existing POA and execute a new one.
- Changes to your advance directive. Changes to a Living Will or a healthcare Power of Attorney should be accomplished by revoking the existing document and executing a new one. Given the important nature of these documents, be sure to give the updated version to family members and healthcare providers immediately.
Do You Need to Make Changes to Your Estate Plan?
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you need to make changes to your estate plan, contact the experienced Los Angeles estate planning attorneys at Schomer Law Group APC by calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.
- Ideas for Eco-Friendly Estate Planning - February 15, 2024
- What to Do After a Terminal Diagnosis: A Practical Guide - February 14, 2024
- The Importance of Estate Planning for Members of the LGBTQIA+ Community - February 10, 2024