Your Estate Plan Needs a Checkup
Whether or not you currently have estate planning documents, one important item to add to your calendar is getting an estate plan checkup.
If you don’t already have an estate plan, then getting one in place should be at the top of your to-do list. Without an estate plan, you and your property may end up in a court-supervised guardianship if you become incapacitated, and your property and your loved ones may end up in a time-consuming and expensive probate proceedings after you die. Also, if you don’t take the time to have any estate planning done, then the state where you live at the time of your death will essentially write one for you and likely not distribute your property and protect your heirs the way you would have.
If you do already have an estate plan, then depending on when your documents were drafted, you may need to get them updated. Over the past two decades, there have been several significant changes in federal and state estate taxes, gift taxes, and generation-skipping transfer taxes. Many documents that were drafted during that time period may be out of date and need to be tweaked in some shape or form. Unfortunately, while your estate planning documents may only be a few years old, they very likely do not take advantage of the opportunities made available from recent changes in federal tax laws. In addition to tax law changes, there have also been modifications to state laws governing wills, trusts, health care directives, and powers of attorney may warrant some revisions to your estate planning documents as well.
Regardless of what year you signed your estate planning documents, think about all of the changes in your life since you signed them. Life events such as marriage or divorce, having a child or a grandchild, or moving to a new state should all be reflected in an updated estate plan. As well as, selling a business, retiring, having a significant change in assets, or winning the lottery are all major changes in your family or financial situation that will influence your estate plan.
Estate planning is not a static event that you can grudgingly do once and then forget about it. On the contrary, estate planning is a continuing process, because life is a moving target that is full of constant change: Your estate plan needs to change as your life changes.
We are here to help you navigate the changes that have occurred since you had your estate plan prepared and ensure your wishes are still being carried out as you envisioned. For those needing an estate plan, we are here now and in the future to mold your estate plan as you move through the various stages of life.