Modifying a California Estate Plan

Q: Can I change my estate plan?

Getting started with estate planning in California is simple. The hardest part is usually overcoming the natural inclination many people have to postpone facing their own mortality or potential disability.

A comprehensive estate plan generally includes a last will and testament and a trust to dispose of your property after you die. Your will also designates the guardians you wish to raise your children if you die before they reach the age of majority.

But death isn’t all you have to plan for. You must also plan for your possible disability, either through an accident or illness. Other documents typically prepared as part of a comprehensive estate plan include powers of attorney and advanced healthcare directives (also known as “living wills”).

Most people execute a power of attorney for financial matters and another one for healthcare matters. A power of attorney gives another trusted person the power to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated by an accident or illness and are unable to do so yourself.

In a living will, you can specify the type of treatment you want (or do not want) to receive if you become terminally ill, incapacitated, or otherwise cannot communicate decisions about your end-of-life care. Some of the living will designations involve your preferences regarding DNR (“Do Not Resuscitate) orders, feeding tubes, artificial respiration (breathing machines) and more.

Most people report incredible peace of mind after executing their initial estate plan and securing their loved ones’ futures, but estate planning is not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor.

Estate plans should be modified when there has been a major change in your personal life or financial situation. Marriages, divorces, births, deaths, changes in your net worth, job, or residence may impact your estate plan, as will changes in the law. Very often, relationships change and you might want to change beneficiaries for probate and non-probate assets. Or you may want to change the guardians of your minor children or designate a different person to be your agent in your financial or medical power of attorney. So, maintaining a relationship with your estate planning attorney is a good idea.

If you have questions regarding an initial estate plan or would like to modify an existing estate plan, Biddle Law can help you. Contact us today for a free 15-minute consultation.

From our offices in San Mateo and Belmont, California, we help clients throughout San Mateo County including San Carlos, Burlingame, and Foster City preserve their wealth and provide for their loved ones.