Don’t Let Your Estate Plan Collect Dust: A Must-Read Guide for Families, Seniors, and Business Owners


Estate planning is like a game of chess - you need to think ahead and make the right moves to protect your loved ones and your assets. It is not a one-time event, but a continuous process that requires the assistance of an experienced estate planning specialist, to be reviewed and updated regularly. You should meet with an experienced estate planning attorney if any of the following apply to you:

1. DIY estate plan: Let’s face it, DIY estate planning is like trying to perform surgery on yourself – it is not a good idea. Although online services may seem like a quick and cheap solution, they often lack the necessary legal formalities and fail to address specific family circumstances. Plus, making changes to a form document can cause it to be legally invalid.

2. Life Changes: Life is unpredictable, and things change. Whether it is a marriage, divorce, new baby, death of a spouse, or a financial windfall, any significant life event can impact your estate plan. That is why it is crucial to review and update it as needed. An outdated estate plan is bound to end up in probate court, which is painful and costly for everyone involved, especially during their time of grief.

3. Regular Check-Ins: Regular check-ins every two to three years can provide peace of mind and ensure that your plan is in line with your current wishes. If you have a family trust, it is important that your assets are titled properly. Forgetting to check that your assets are titled correctly (including beneficiary designations) will cause headaches down the road for your loved ones.

4. Legal Updates: Just as laws change, so should your estate plan. In the last few years, there have been a number of changes in federal tax laws and state property tax laws. Keeping up with the latest legal updates will ensure that your plan stays valid and executed as you intended.

5. Business Owner: And, if you are a business owner, your personal family estate plan should align with your business plan. You need to consider how issues like death and incapacity will affect your business and ensure that your legacy is protected. If you have any business partners, it is critical that they do the same, or your business could be dragged into a lengthy court battle.

In conclusion, updating and reviewing your estate plan is not something to put off. It is a vital step in protecting your family, assets, and business. Find and work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan provides a seamless roadmap of your intentions and wishes, and minimizes problems for your loved ones down the road.

Parisa Weiss lives in La Jolla with her husband Eric and her two daughters (Melody & Shiley). She is a partner at Buchalter Law Firm, and a certified specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law by the State Bar of Legal Specialization. Approximately 5% of California attorneys are certified as specialists by the State Bar. She may be reached at or 619-219-5351.