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Updating your estate plan: a continuing look at this "must do" task

We stressed in our immediately preceding blog post the logical need for individuals and families in California and across the country to periodically revisit the estate plans they carefully crafted in the past. We noted in our July 27 entry that the financial strategies and detailed expectations inherent in given estate administration documents and tools need to be adjusted sometimes "when the world around us changes."

And, of course, that world changes often, and in fundamental ways, for most planners, regardless of how hard they try to implement financial plans that will comprehensively and permanently address life's ongoing and material modifications.

Our above-cited post duly points out that such flux and dynamism -- and its constancy-- requires steady attention paid to "events that warrant a review" of cornerstone planning considerations.

Several commentators on estate administration matters recently imparted some instructive thoughts in an article addressing the need for estate planning clients to periodically and timely revisit their already-executed plans.

Here's one reason why: A will executed years ago and since untouched might be deemed legally invalid upon a drafter's death. Perhaps, for example, a will was executed when the drafter was married, with that person subsequently divorcing prior to death. That fact could lead to probate, a potentially time-consuming and unexpectedly expensive process resulting in unforeseen and undesired outcomes.

Or it might be the case that estate assets earmarked for a loved one's inheritance were not sufficiently considered from a taxation standpoint, leading to what the above-cited article terms a diminished inheritance that was both "unintended and potentially avoidable" through timely plan updating.

There are, of course, a host of other possibilities that might arise and lead to unwanted outcomes owing to a lack of planning foresight. The aforementioned commentators note several of them.

Both singly and collectively, they point to the need for any estate planner to be proactive and forward-looking.

"It's never a good idea to leave the fate of your heirs to luck," says one investment adviser.

Close and studied input from a proven estate planning attorney can help ensure that luck has nothing to do with a desired planning outcome.

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