Laws change. Your life changes. It’s important for your estate plan to be up-to-date with these changes. Your estate plan is a set of documents, such as a will or trust, that dictate how your assets will be distributed upon your death or incapacity.
Hopefully your attorney considered your current legal and financial situation to create a comprehensive estate plan tailored specifically to your needs. One of our goals is to educate the community about the importance of hiring an attorney who will do this, as well as check in with you to make sure your plan continues to fit those needs.
Estate planning isn’t a one-time task. A solid, comprehensive estate plan is like a living organism – it requires attention as the environment changes – your environment changes. Whether those changes are political, economic, or personal, you should review and update your estate plan and here’s why.
1. Ensure Your Wishes Are Respected
The primary reason to update an estate plan is to ensure that an individual’s wishes are respected upon death. For example, suppose an individual has recently acquired valuable property or has had changes in family structure (such as marriage or children). In that case, updating the documents that outline how assets should be distributed is important. If the documents are not updated, this could lead to disputes between family members and legal complications when probate occurs. Additionally, if laws change at the state or federal level, those changes need to be incorporated into the existing estate plan to remain valid and effective.
2. Protect Your Loved Ones From Tax Implications
Another reason for updating an estate plan is for future tax planning purposes. Without proper planning and asset allocation, taxes can significantly reduce the amount that beneficiaries receive after one’s death. Additionally, some states have transfer taxes on certain assets (such as real estate), which must be factored into one’s estate planning decisions. In addition, changes in Federal tax law may affect whether other taxes, such as capital gains tax, applies at the time of death or while transferring assets during life – thus providing additional incentive for individuals to review their plans regularly with their advisors and make necessary updates when required.
3. Ensure Your Medical Decisions Are Handled With Care
Estate planning also encompasses contingency plans in case of incapacity due to illness or injury – commonly referred to as disability planning. This means creating end-of-life documents such as Advance Health Care Directives which list specific instructions about medical treatments that should be administered if certain conditions arise – such as if a person suffers from dementia or a traumatic brain injury and can no longer make decisions on their behalf. This planning can provide peace of mind knowing that an individual’s wishes will be respected even if they cannot make decisions themselves due to illness or injury.
4. Leave a Legacy For Your Loved Ones
Finally, updating an estate plan allows people to express gratitude for those who have helped them over the years – whether it be through providing advice on financial matters or being there simply by offering emotional support during difficult times – by including them in a legacy interview with our firm. Specific instructions can also be included in your plan regarding how charitable donations should be handled after death – enabling individuals who wish to donate part of their wealth to leave behind a lasting legacy that furthers causes they believe in long after they pass away.
Keep Your Estate Plan Up-To-Date
Maintaining your estate plan helps ensure that your wishes are respected upon incapacity or death; protects you from unnecessary taxes; helps with disability planning; and allows you the chance to express appreciation towards those who have had a positive impact on your life while still alive. Therefore, estate plans should consider current circumstances and anticipate future events to avoid any potential problems. We hold regular reviews of your estate plan through the stages of change in your life or every three years.
Contact us today with your questions about your current plan and if you need an update.