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It’s Time to Update Your Estate Plan!

Ensuring your estate plan is up-to-date is a critical part of ensuring that your lifetime’s work benefits you and your family the way YOU want it to. Our clients frequently ask us when they should review or update their estate plan – for this, there is no short answer. However, if any of the statements below are true, it is likely that you should review or update your current estate plan.

My Estate Plan:

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  • I or my spouse have received a poor health diagnosis.
  • I or my spouse have retired.
  • My spouse has died.
  • I have changed my state of residence.
  •  I have purchased real property in another state.
  •  I need more information to understand what trusts (revocable, irrevocable, charitable trusts and other types) might be available to meet my estate planning goals. I would like to know how the latest tax laws affect my estate plan.
  • Although I currently use a revocable trust as part of my estate plan, I need assistance to ensure I have properly titled my assets and properly completed my beneficiary designations.
  •  It has been five years since I have reviewed my estate planning documents and I am concerned there may have been changes in the law which might impact the distribution of my estate.
  • I have one or more of my children’s (or other persons’) names on my house or cash accounts and I am not sure if this is how they should be set up to ensure my bills are paid if I become incapacitated.
  • My financial or medical power of attorney is over 5 years old.
  • I cannot find the originals of my estate planning documents.

Marital Situation:

  • My marital status has changed.
  • A second marriage is on the horizon, and I need ensuring my new spouse and my intended heirs are provided for in the future and there is no fighting amongst them.
  • I am already married but want to do what I can to avoid a fight amongst my spouse and my children.
  • A member of the family who is an intended heir has become divorced or separated since my last review and I am concerned about leaving them an outright distribution.

Special Bequests:

  • I would like to make a gift to individuals not presently included in my estate plan or delete a gift to one or more persons (or charities).
  • I would like to change the amounts of my bequests, either because my estate has increased or decreased in size.
  • I no longer own a specific asset mentioned in my will or trust.
  • I would like to make a gift during my lifetime and need advice on how best to structure the gift to ensure the gift does not create tax problems and is used in a way in which I intend it to be used.
  • My pet is important to me, and I want to insure if it survives me, it is cared for in the manner of my choosing.
  • I would like to discharge an obligation owed to me by canceling the loan in my will.

Change in Valuation of my Estate:

  • The value of my estate has significantly changed in the last five years.
  • My estate is likely to be over $6,000,000 in value when I die, and I am concerned about estate taxes that may payable because I am likely to live beyond 2025.

Asset Protection for my Heirs:

  • One or more of my heirs has a creditor problem or is not good with money and I am concerned any inheritance will be lost to creditors.
  • Divorce could be on the horizon for one of my descendants and I want to protect any inheritance I might give to my children to insure it will end up in the hands of my grandchildren.

Provisions for Children/Grandchildren:

  • I have a new child by birth or adoption since the last review of my estate plan.
  • I have a child or grandchild who has become an adult since the last review of my estate plan.
  •  I wish to disinherit a child or grandchild.
  • I have a child or grandchild who has died since my last review.
  • I have a stepchild who I would like to include in my estate plan.
  • I have a child or grandchild who has become handicapped or seriously injured since our last review.
  • One or more of my children or grandchildren receives SSI or Medicaid.
  • I wish to ensure assets are held for the benefit of a child or grandchild to use for educational or other specific purposes.
  • Rather than making an outright distribution to my descendants, I wish to hold their distribution in a trust to protect it from the claims of their creditors, spouses (in the event of a divorce), or my descendant’s own bad judgment.
  • My desires regarding the ages at which I originally provided for the disposition to my children has changed.
  • A child, grandchild, etc., has been born (or adopted) since our last review.
  • I would like to provide a clause to equalize gifts made in the past (or I make in the future) to certain children.

Retirement Plans:

  •  I have an IRA or 401(k) account and have not reviewed the designations of beneficiary after the enactment of the SECURE Act (12/1/2019).
  • I have not reviewed the designation of beneficiary for my IRA or 401(k) account in the last 5 years.

Life Insurance:

  • I have added (or dropped) more than $50,000 of life insurance since our last review.
  • I have not reviewed the designation of beneficiary for my life insurance in the last 5 years.
  • I have (or would like to) change a beneficiary designation on an existing policy.
  • I may need more life insurance, but I do not know how much to buy or what type to consider.

Assisted and Long-Term Care Costs for Me or My Parents:

  • I am concerned about assisted and long-term care costs and have considered purchasing long term care insurance and may need to visit with someone about this for myself.
  • I believe that I or a member of my family will be admitted to either an assisted care or a skilled nursing facility, and I am concerned that I will deplete my or their assets paying for that care.
  • Medicaid and Medicare are confusing, and I am unsure how they might be useful to me in my estate planning.

Gifts to Minors or Charities:

  • I would like to make substantial gifts to minor children (more than $16,000.00).
  • Gifts to my grandchildren are important and I would like to provide for their secondary education.
  • I would like to add (or delete) one or more charitable beneficiaries or change the amount of my bequest.

Business Interests:

  • I have entered a stock, partnership, or LLC buy-sell agreement since my last review.
  • My business situation has changed significantly since my last review.

Guardian, Agents, Executors, and Trustees:

  • I would like to change the person or order of persons I have named as my personal representatives, successive trustee or agent acting under my medical or financial power of attorney.
  •  I have named co-agents, co-executors, or co-trustees and I am concerned that they may not be able to work together.
  • I would like to name a particular person as advisor to my personal representative and trustees.
  • I would like to reconsider the designation of the guardians, agent under a power of attorney or health care proxy, personal representative, and/or trustees I have named.

Posted in Senior Law News