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  • Gabriel B. Lenhart

New Year’s Resolution: Protect My Family

Every January 1st, many of us set resolutions or goals for the upcoming year, in the hopes of breaking old habits and starting the New Year off on a healthier, more enlightened path. However, in addition to those fitness and weight loss goals, we also must think about our legal and financial health as well. Nobody likes to think that they will die eventually, but it is incumbent upon each and every person to plan for this event, and what better time than the beginning of a New Year?

Many people are aware that they need to establish an estate plan so that their wishes are known and their family can avoid the grueling task and high costs associated with probate, but, much like going to the gym or quitting smoking, many also keep pushing it off. In the absence of an estate plan, your estate beneficiaries will be determined by the courts and state law, and result in the nest egg you intended to pass on to your loved ones being eaten up by administrative fees and taxes.

Additionally, all too frequently people assume that once these decisions have been made and the documents have been drafted that they can just file their estate plan away in a drawer or safe deposit box to be found in the case of their incapacity or death. An estate plan that was proper a few years or even months ago may not be so today, and a periodic review of your estate plan at the beginning of the year may save your family a lot of time and money down the road.

It is of the utmost importance to review your estate plan in order to ensure that they are still effective, that they still reflect your current wishes, and that any changes in circumstances or law has been accounted for. There are certain events that should automatically trigger you to update your estate plan: marriage; divorce; change in financial status; change in assets; birth or death of a beneficiary or fiduciary; disability or illness; change in residence; and change in estate tax laws. Each one of these life events could seriously affect your estate plan and overlooking these changes could lead to a loved one not being provided for, even if that was against your best intentions.

Therefore, much like your New Year’s resolutions to become healthier by going to the gym, eating better, or quitting smoking, make a resolution to create or review your estate plan and finally achieve that peace of mind you have been putting off for all these years.

Please note that this article is a general summary of law and omits many important details, footnotes, and caveats. It is no substitute for legal advice from a lawyer based on your particular circumstances.

For more information or to speak with a lawyer, please call us at (530) 268-5485, visit our website,, or send us an email at

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