How does one know when to update an estate plan? How does one know when to create one in the first place? Estate planning can be a daunting topic for many people. The good news is there are many options available to benefit you and your loved ones because not everyone’s situation is the same. However, there are several circumstances that may affect your estate or your heirs and beneficiaries. If any of these instances apply to you or a loved one, consider speaking to an estate planning attorney to be sure you have the proper plan in place:
- Births, deaths, marriages, or divorces in your immediate family;
- This includes the addition of grandchildren in your family;
- This also includes stepchildren and adopted children;
- Individuals named in your estate planning documents have died, have become permanently disabled, or are now receiving government assistance;
- Children or other individuals named in your estate planning documents have matured (no longer dependent) or developed personal or financial issues that could affect their ability to use or handle an inheritance prudently;
- The value of your assets has significantly increased or decreased;
- You have an interest in a company or corporation;
- You have a partnership and your business partner has left the company;
- You or your spouse have started a company, or already own one that has significantly changed in value;
- You have acquired real estate or other assets that are not titled in the name of your trust or disposed of properly by your Trust or Will documents;
- You have purchased additional life insurance coverage;
- You have retirement assets that may become an income tax burden for your beneficiaries if not titled properly;
- There are persons not named in your estate planning documents for whom you would like to make provisions;
- There are specific gifts in your estate planning documents that you would like to increase, decrease, or delete;
- There is property specifically given by your estate planning documents that has been sold, lost, or otherwise disposed;
- You have made large gifts or loans to any persons who are beneficiaries under your estate planning documents;
- You wish to change your named Personal Representative, Trustee, Successor Trustee, Patient Advocate, or Guardian;
- Your Durable Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney (Patient Advocate Form) are more than five (5) years old; and
- Your Trust has not been reviewed or modified since the federal estate tax exemption increased in December 2017.
Keep in that mind that estate plans are not only for people of certain ages or of certain incomes. Anyone can make an estate plan and have a say in how their property, money, and belongings be distributed when they pass away. It is also an important opportunity to choose a guardian if you have minor children.
Without an estate plan in place, your loved ones may have to probate your estate. The probate process can be expensive, take several months to complete, and it exposes your estate to the claims of creditors. There are ways to avoid probate completely, but only if you take the steps to put these mechanisms in place.
It doesn’t matter how old you are or much money you make, it just matters that you are prepared. Contact one of our estate planning attorneys today and we would be happy to help answer any of your questions.