Are You Traveling This Summer?
It is common for folks to review their will and estate plan before they go on a big trip, especially when it involves flying. Before you take off, make sure you have communicated where everything is to your loved ones and review your plan to ensure that it is still consistent with your wishes.
You should review your estate plan at least once a year. Review your documents, your family situation, your beneficiaries’ situation and the current tax laws with your professional advisors to determine whether changes are needed, and how you can utilize current estate planning strategies to protect the inheritance you wish to leave for your loved ones.
Examples of When Updates May Be Needed:
- Births. You should consider the effects that the birth of a child or grandchild will have on your estate planning.
- Death. The death of a loved one or other beneficiary can greatly affect your estate plan. So can the death or disability of your executor, your children’s guardian, your trustee, or the agent in your durable power of attorney or health care instructions.
- Disability. If one or more of your beneficiaries becomes disabled, you may be jeopardizing their public assistance benefits by giving them an outright distribution from your estate. With proper planning, a disabled beneficiary may receive an inheritance and still qualify for public assistance benefits.
- Marriage. If you marry or re-marry, you most certainly will want to review your estate plan. You may also want to revise your estate plan if/when your children marry.
- Divorce. Should you or one of your beneficiaries divorce, you may want to revise your estate plan. For example, if your will leaves your son and his wife joint ownership of your assets, imagine the problems that could arise if they divorce.
- Residence in Other States. If you move to another state, you should have an attorney in your new state of residence review your documents to be sure that they address any state-specific requirements.
- Changes in Estate Composition. A substantial windfall or decrease in the value of your estate may dramatically affect your planning objectives, precipitating the need for a thorough review of your estate plan.
- Business Changes. If a significant change occurs regarding your business interests, you should review your estate plan. Such changes include, but are not limited to, the following: starting, buying or selling a business; entering into a buy-sell agreement; changing your business’ legal form; a significant change in the value of the business; and the death of a business partner or shareholder of your business entity.
- Tax Law Changes. On average, the tax law changes every few years. Changes in the tax law may make your estate plan outdated.
- Time Passage. As time passes, life changes. It is a good habit to constantly make sure your will is updated.