You should check your estate planning documents every so often, to make sure they’re still good, especially with big life changes like births, marriages, divorces, and moving to another state. Children grow up, marriages dissolve, property gets sold, residences change. That’s why we recommend that you consult us for an estate-plan check-up every five years or so.
If you retire to another state, your trust would probably be good, but income tax and estate tax laws differ in every state. So you will want to best understand how these taxes in your new state impact the administration of your trust after you die. In addition, laws concerning powers of attorney vary from state to state. Documents from the “old” state might not work in the “new” one, and your documents would not be there for you when you need them.
Suppose you left your property to your spouse and appointed that person to be your power of attorney. You got divorced, but you never got around to changing your plan. The law would usually step in to prevent your ex-spouse from inheriting, but you might be stuck with that person holding power of attorney over your property and health care.
Maybe you named your ex-spouse’s father as your executor and agent. Now he can’t stand you and blames you for the break-up.
Perhaps you left your property to your two children equally – but now one child is addicted to opioids. Your will or trust did not restrict how money should be spent. If your addicted child inherits a lot of money in one chunk, that money could vanish to drugs and your child’s survival might be at risk.
Or, you deeded your house to one child and made a will or trust leaving money to your other child. Then you forgot about the deed and changed your planning years later to create a will or trust that split everything equally. The law would invalidate the second will or trust as to the house because the title on deeds controls and supplants whatever the will or trust command. Consequently, one child might end up receiving more value than the other. That unfairness might sour the children against each other or leave one of them with very hurt feelings.
If you got divorced, sold property, moved to another state, or did your documents more than five years ago, come see us for an estate plan check-up. Learn more about our estate planning checklist.
When it comes to estate planning, there is no “one and done.” As we tell our clients, estate planning is a conversation you want to begin as early as possible and continue having for the rest of your life. Our Orange County law firm can help you or a loved one navigate your estate plan and ensure it is updated for the new year. Please contact us or schedule an appointment with us to discuss your legal needs.
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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He’s all about family and passionate about estate planning, elder law, and veterans. He founded Snyder Law to help people be prepared and have the peace of mind they are protecting their families and aging parents for when life happens.