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New Child = Time to Review your Estate Plan

Frankie

Meet Frances Rose.

“Frankie” is the newest member of the Tailored Legal family. My wife gave birth to her last week and at 10 pounds 3 ounces, she made quite an entrance. Our 19 month old son is still getting used to a new baby in the house and over the first week of her life, he has chosen to ignore her more often than not. While I know Jack will come to love his baby sister very much, my wife and I don’t get the same transition period that is typical of toddlers with new siblings. My son may wish to forget about his sister for the first few months, but when I returned to work this week I couldn’t help but spend some time contemplating our growing family’s future.

When I meet with Tailored Legal’s estate planning clients to sign their new living trusts, they will often ask how frequently they should update their estate plan. While every family’s needs are different, a general rule is to review your living trust, wills, powers of attorney and other estate plan documents after each major life event. Such events may include happier moments:

• Birth of a child
• Marriage
• Purchase of a new home
• Celebration of a milestone birthday

Such events may also include more troubling times:

• Divorce
• Death of a family member
• Disability

If none of these types of events have occurred in quite some time, the passage of 5 or 10 years is always a good reason to review your estate plan.

Estate plans are living breathing documents. They require periodic maintenance and updates. When a major life event occurs, it is important to review your estate plan and ask yourself a few questions. In my case, the birth of a child, I’ve updated my estate plan to add little Frankie to my living trust, but I’ve also considered some other very important issues:

• Do I need to increase my life insurance policy to account for an additional family member, or change the beneficiary on my life insurance policies?
• If something should happen to me and my wife, is the guardian named in our wills willing to take on two children instead of just one?
• Is the successor trustee of our living trust, the executor of our wills, and the agent named in our durable powers of attorney and advance health care directive still the appropriate person for the job, given the addition to our family?

These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when any major life event passes you by. If you aren’t sure of the answers, seek a consultation with an attorney to help you decide whether the life event requires an update to your estate plan. A good attorney will identify how the event affects your current estate plan documents without trying to sell you on an unnecessary update to your plan.

If there have been substantial changes in your life, or it’s been years since your estate plan has been reviewed by an attorney, contact us to request a no cost consultation to help you determine whether it’s time for an update. If you are like me and the change in your life is a new baby, don’t delay – an outdated estate plan will keep you awake at night during those few precious moments available for sleep.

John Masnica


John Masnica is President and founder of Tailored Legal, a law firm committed to small business and family representation in San Diego and North County.  Committed to ensuring business owners thrive, John represents them in all aspects of their businesses and during all stages of the business life cycle.  He also helps business owners and families to plan for their future through the use of wills, trusts, and other estate planning tools.

 

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