In Honor of Financial Wellness Month, Start the New Year Off Right With an Updated Estate Plan

financial wellness month

Every new year brings new—and sometimes old—resolutions. They usually fall through in a couple of weeks or months. Why not make caring for your family for years to come your goal for 2023? Did you know that January is Financial Wellness Month? Financial Wellness Month is a yearly reminder to pay attention to your finances and financial health. After the holiday season, your wallet might be feeling a little tight, so January is a great time to start fresh with some financial resolutions! An excellent way to participate in Financial Wellness Month is to start or update your estate plan. An estate plan ensures your assets—including your wealth and property—are secure. It also helps you protect your and your family’s financial well-being for years to come. If you’d like to learn more about estate planning and how you can save, please read this guide and connect with Santa Barabara Estate Planning & Elder Law.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of creating a strategy for your future. This can include end-of-life care and what happens to your belongings after you pass away. Estate planning can be overwhelming since it heavily revolves around death, but it is essential to protecting your finances and your family. An estate plan can include your will, a document explaining how you want to distribute your assets after passing away. In your will, you can appoint beneficiaries and how much each beneficiary should receive. You should include many other vital documents in your estate plan, such as a trust, power of attorney, and a living will. With an estate plan, you can ensure that your assets are in the right hands once you’re gone. If you’d like to develop an estate plan, contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

Why is it Important to Update Your Estate Plan?

Once you’ve created your estate plan, you might think you’re good to go. While creating your estate plan is an excellent first step to securing your assets, updating your plan periodically is just as important. Why? Well, life is unpredictable. As the years go on, your family’s needs change. These changes should be reflected in your financial planning and your estate plan. For example, if you and your spouse have another child, you might want to add your child as a beneficiary or set up a trust for them. Additionally, you could appoint a guardian for your child in case you pass away before they become an adult. Think of your estate plan as a living document. To best protect your assets, you should update your plan. This way, you can alter your estate plan to suit your family’s current needs.

How Often Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

Now you know it’s best practice to review your estate plan periodically. But how often should you update it? A general guideline is to review your estate plan every three to five years. Of course, some people may revisit their plans more often than others. Some update their estate plans when they review their finances–once or twice a year. Another rule of thumb is to update your estate plan when a life event happens. For example, it’s best to revisit your plan if you get married or divorced.

A few best practices for updating your estate plan include reviewing your plan when these events occur:

  • You gain a dependent
  • A child or grandchild needs a college fund
  • You or your spouse become disabled or ill
  • You purchase a significant asset like a car or a house
  • You move out of state

These are just a few ideas. It may be time to review your estate plan if any other major events happen.

Start the Year off Right — Contact Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law

The new year brings fresh starts and change. Start your year off right by participating in Financial Wellness Month by expanding your financial literacy, considering retirement planning, and creating an estate plan if you don’t already have one. Already have an estate plan? Use Financial Wellness Month to revisit it and make some necessary changes. If you need help creating an estate plan or have more questions, contact an Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law attorney.

Author Bio

Julianna Malis is the Founder and Managing Partner of Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law, a Santa Barbara estate planning law firm she founded in 2014. With more than 25 years of experience practicing law, she has dedicated her career to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including estate planning, elder law, Medicaid and Medicare planning, probate, and other estate planning areas.

Julianna received her Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific — McGeorge School of Law and is a member of the California State Bar Association.

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