When Do You Need to Update Your Estate Plan?

Any time you undergo a significant life event such as:


  • First Marriage- In California, your spouse does not receive 100% of your estate under the laws of intestate succession; specify whom you want to receive your assets when you die.
  • Subsequent marriages- If you leave all of your assets to your new spouse, they are not obligated to give whatever is left to your children. There are a number of ways to provide for both your spouse and your children, as well as anyone else. An estate planning attorney can assist you in creating an estate plan that is customized for your needs.


  • If you have children, name a guardian for the them. Set up a trust for your children so that your assets are set aside for your children when they get older. In California, minor children cannot legally inherit your assets outright.
  • As children get older, update your estate plan. Your children may no longer need a trust, and you may want to appoint them as successor trustees, executors, or agents under your power of attorney or advance healthcare directive.
  • Your children can now receive an outright distribution, and you may want to include provisions in your trust for how the money may be used-consider education, healthcare, or other important purposes.
  • You may also want to provide for distributions in stages rather than one lump sum payment when they are young adults.

Divorce or Death of a Spouse

  • You will likely need to appoint new or different successor trustees, executors, and agents.
  • You will also need to make sure to update your beneficiaries on any retirement plans or insurance policies.

Increase in Assets

  • If your estate is well under the estate tax exemption amount, you do not need to worry about estate tax planning as much.
  • If your estate grows, a trust can assist with estate tax planning matters.
  • If you have recently acquired or disposed of significant assets, your estate plan should indicate this change.

If you have questions about estate tax planning, it is important to reach out to an estate planning attorney, especially one well-versed in tax law, to make sure you have an estate plan that is right for you.

Contact Mendes Weed, LLP, Your Estate Planning Attorney.

If you or a loved one in the SF Bay Area want more information about estate planning, please give Mendes Weed, LLP a call at 925-390-3222.  We are here to help. Our main office is located in Walnut Creek, and we serve clients in Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk, Pleasanton, Livermore, Solano Counties, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sacramento.

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