What to Bring to The Hospital: Many of our clients and friends of the firm ask us how they can update their Wills and Trusts during these trying times. We continue to work with and advise clients remotely and can do so with you. Call us at 760-436-8832 with any questions. One question we continue to get is what should I bring to the hospital if the worst occurs. Here’s the link to one group’s very detailed take on that issue.
Dear Mr. Miller:
I get it; we are in a pandemic. Is it crazy to be thinking that it’s time to update my estate planning documents?
I have a Will, Living Trust, and Power of Attorney for Health and another for Assets. they were done not that long ago—-5 years. Is it too early?
Am I Panicking Needlessly
Should an Estate Plan be Reviewed Periodically? You bring up a question that we hear constantly and especially during these very trying times. Your concern is not panic but well reasoned. First, a pandemic always brings one’s mortality to the forefront of thought. Second, is the issue of your perspective: If you are of the opinion that once you sign a Will or Living Trust, it will not be necessary to make changes for the next 50 years, then you are probably fooling yourself—-many people believe this. On the other hand, if you agree that change is constant and that it’s important to have your estate planning documents reviewed periodically then now is a most appropriate time. We typically advise every 2-3 years. Documents to be reviewed, at a minimum, include the Will, Living Trust, Power of Attorney for Finances, and Health Care Directive.
What types of things may need to be reviewed or changed? We like to think of it as “health, wealth, and the family.” Has your health changed since your last review? Has your wealth changed since your last review (up or down)? Has your family changed—-births, deaths, marriages, your children getting older and more or less mature? Any of those things may justify changes and certainly justify talking to a lawyer and having your documents reviewed.
Have your desires changed? In other words, is it better for your youngest daughter to be making decisions for you (if you can’t)or your estate (if you are not longer with us) than your eldest daughter. Perhaps you now realize that she has a more level head or she now is an attorney with a much better perspective on all this than the eldest daughter who is a computer tech. Do you want to leave more of the estate (or less) to a particular family member or maybe protect that member’s inheritance from his scheming new spouse of whom you never approved? (You might want to see my frequestnly asked questions page on this and many other issues here.) And, of course, the list can go on and on–it just depends on your thoughts and desires. But if anything like this is true for you, then sooner rather than later, when it could be too late, is the proper time to have the review.
Has the law changed? The law is changing all the time. For example in 2017 the California appellate courts issued almost 10,000 opinions, each one potentially changing the interpretation of the law. And the California legislature passes hundreds of new statutes each year which also changes the law. Now, not all of those laws apply to estate planning and of what’s left, most of them may not apply to you. That’s the attorney’s job to determine whether any do or not. But without a review, no one knows whether you need a change because the law changed that affects your estate plan in some critical way.
Changes for Parents and Grandparents: And then there’s your parents or grandparents. These people may be in a more at risk group than you, making a review even more urgent. And they may be thinking about this exact subject. It would be useful if you raised the question with them.
In any case, we are here and open for business, generally by phone and video conference for our clients. Give us a call at 760-436-8832.