Is It Time to Update Your Estate Plan?
Your estate plan is more than just a document; it's a dynamic blueprint for protecting your legacy and ensuring that your wishes are honored. As life's circumstances change, so too should your estate plan. Whether it's changes in your family, your assets, or even the law itself, it's important to regularly review and update your plan in partnership with your estate attorney. Here are some key considerations that you should assess when determining if your estate plan is up-to-date and effective.
1. Beneficiary & Fiduciary Issues
Deceased Individuals: Check if any individuals named as beneficiaries or fiduciaries (e.g., Executor, Trustee) have passed away, and make necessary adjustments.
Beneficiary Changes: Consider adding or removing any individuals or charitable organizations as beneficiaries.
Family Changes: Marriages, divorces, births, or special needs may impact your estate plan. Regularly reviewing these aspects will help keep your estate plan aligned with your family's circumstances.
Protection of Beneficiaries: Issues such as divorce, creditor challenges, substance abuse, or gambling may require protection of beneficiaries within the estate plan.
Updates to Legal Appointments: Ensure that Powers of Attorney (General and/or Health Care) and intentions in your Living Will are current.
2. Assets & Property Related Issues
Estate Tax Considerations: If your estate exceeds the federal exclusion amount (maximum $12.92 million, or $25.84 million if you are married), strategize to plan for a possible federal estate tax liability.
Specific Bequests: If you wish to make particular bequests of assets not included in your current plan, update accordingly.
Property Ownership: Review your estate plan if you have bought or sold a second residence, or if you own properties in multiple states.
Asset Changes: Regularly assess material changes to your assets in both ownership and valuation.
3. Minors & Children Related Issues
Children Reaching Age of Majority: If your children have reached the age of 18 (or the age of majority in your state), guardianship considerations will need to be updated.
Young Children: For children under 18, appointing or changing Guardians and/or Trustees may be required.
Adult Children Without Dependents: Talk to your adult child about implementing their own Powers of Attorney, and consider appointing yourself to act on their behalf if needed.
4. Other Issues
Legal Changes: Stay informed about changes to state or federal laws that might affect your estate plan.
Digital Assets: Consider how digital assets (like online accounts and digital media collections) should be managed or preserved.
State-Specific Considerations: Some states may have specific estate tax laws or other unique legal aspects that must be considered.
Your estate plan is not a static document. It needs regular review and updates to reflect changes in your personal life, asset structure, and legal environment. By paying attention to the areas outlined above, you can maintain an estate plan that not only respects your wishes but also provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
If you need assistance with any of these aspects, make sure to seek professional legal advice to ensure that your estate plan remains aligned with your current needs and future goals. Regularly revisiting your estate plan with these considerations in mind will go a long way in avoiding potential disputes and complications down the line.
We believe that to properly manage your assets, we need to have a complete picture of who you are and what you hope to achieve.