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The importance of updating an estate plan

Some Pennsylvania residents may feel that once they have created an estate plan, they do not have to think about it any more, but this is not the case. Estate plans need to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they remain current. It can be easy to procrastinate and assume that there is always time, but this may not be the case. The film director John Singleton, who died suddenly of a stroke at 51, is a case in point.

Singleton prepared a will in 1993 and never updated it. At that time, he had one daughter. He later had at least four other children. When his mother filed his will in probate court, she listed two other children alleged to be his. California law states that children born after a will is prepared who are not receiving an inheritance by other means, such as a life insurance policy, get equal shares of the parent's estate. However, it is unclear what may happen to the other two children.

Initially, one of Singleton's daughters opposed his mother's efforts to be appointed executor although she has dropped her objection. There may be further conflict for the family ahead. For example, the children may not agree with how the mother handles Singleton's intellectual property.

Estate planning is an ongoing process, and the components should be revised as major family changes happen, such as the birth of children. Some people may also want to consider a trust. While not appropriate in all circumstances, it can keep the estate plan private and may be useful in more complex situations. While reviewing wills or trusts, people should also make sure they still want to keep people in the same roles. For example, the person they have chosen as executor may no longer be suitable.

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