When to do an Estate Plan?

The short answer is that there is never a bad time to do an estate plan. Life is unexpected and can bring both good and bad surprises. It is always better to plan ahead when it comes to your finances and healthcare.

An especially good time to make sure your finances and healthcare instructions are in order is when there’s a big change in your life. You’ve just got married, you’ve bought a home or additional property, you’re pregnant, you’ve been diagnosed with a disease, you’ve inherited money, etc.


Why is it a good idea to create or revisit your estate plan when there is a big change in your life? 

If it’s a change that’s related to your finances, there could be tax implications, more investment options, or different ways you now want to distribute your assets after you pass. 

If it’s a change related to your family or personal healthcare, you want to make sure both you and your loved ones are properly cared for. For example, you should make it clear if you do/do not want to be resuscitated. Or if you prefer to continue living in your own home instead of being forced into a communal assisted living setting. Or if you have kids, you should include who you want to be their guardian if you cannot care for them. 

The Big, Bad Alternative

The alternative to not having an Advance Health Care Directive (stating who you want to be in charge of making healthcare decisions for you, if you are not able to, and what your healthcare preferences are), is filing a petition with the court for a conservatorship to appoint someone to be in charge. This costs time and money and can be very stressful on your friends and family.

Similarly, if you do not have a Power of Attorney (stating who you want to be in charge of your finances, if you are not able to be), a petition for conservatorship to appoint someone to be in charge will need to be filed with the court. Again, this costs time and money and can be very stressful on your friends and family.

If you pass away without a Trust and you have real property that exceeds $50,000 in value or total assets that exceed $166,000 in value, your estate will have to go through probate court. This is true even if you have a Will. As mentioned above, going to court costs time, money and stress often delaying the distribution of assets to your beneficiaries.

For example, probate statutory fees are 4% of the first $100,000 of the estate + 3% of the next $100,000 + 2% of the next $800,000 + 1% of the next $9,000,000 + 0.5% of the next $15,000,000. That means if your total estate is worth $800,000, the statutory fees alone will be $19,000. That’s money that could have gone to your loved ones.

Who can you plan for?

When you create an estate plan, in addition to planning for yourself, you can include provisions to provide for your spouse, partner, kids, friends, pets, and charities. 

Need a San Diego Estate Planning Attorney to Help Review Your Estate Plan? Get in Touch

Reviewing your estate plan after significant life events is essential. At Bellator Law Group, our estate planning attorneys will assist you in updating your plan to ensure it reflects your actual will and aspirations. Contact us online or call us at (619) 232-8377 to find out how you can protect and plan for your future and the future of those you love.

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