It’s Imperative To Keep Your Estate Plan Updated

We’ve been over how everyone needs an estate plan, regardless of whether you’re young or old. It’s a necessary tool to protect and preserve your hard work for your loved ones when you’re gone.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes people make in estate planning is to “set it and forget it.” Clients look at estate planning as a product instead of a process. Setting up an estate plan is an important first step, but it’s not the end of your estate planning journey. Your estate plan can only capture the moment in time in which it was created and the projections/assumptions you’re making at that moment.

Back in the “good ‘ole days”, it was safe to leave your estate plan as-is, but today’s longer life expectancy and wealth opportunities, not to mention changes to the law, mean you could be spending several decades in retirement. You’re going to need a plan and resources available to you during this time to make sure your later years aren’t spent pinching pennies. We want to help you get there, so we want to look at important moments that should spur a change in your estate plan.

Family changes

Family members are the most common individuals named in estate plans. These are the people you were brought up with, the people you raised, and the people who have been there through it all.

What’s also true is that family can take many shapes and forms. When you’ve named a family member in your will, you’ll need to consider removing them or updating asset allocations if they die, your relationship falters, they become incapacitated, or are otherwise unable to receive assets as you originally intended.

This also applies to when your family grows through marriage or birth. If you welcome a new child or grandchild into the world, you may want to consider adding them to your estate. It’s natural to want to take care of new family members.

Financial changes

Family changes and other life changes can have a major impact on your finances. Whether you get a big raise at work, receive a large sum of money, or become unemployed, it’s important to consider how these changes affect your estate plan.

Trusts are a great tool to help you avoid probate, but any estate will end up in probate if the terms can’t be fulfilled. This means if you allocate funds you don’t actually possess, then your private wishes will become public as the courts sift through the discrepancies.

Asset management

This same logic applies to the assets you list in your estate plan. As your assets change over time, you need to keep your estate plan updated to reflect any new or lost assets.

For example, if you buy or sell a property, you’re going to need to include these changes in your estate. Leaving large assets such as property that you no longer own in your estate can create headaches down the road not only for your beneficiaries but also for whoever you sold the property to.

Legal changes

Laws governing estate planning are changing frequently. Estate and inheritance taxes are frequent targets by the government to increase taxes. If these taxes are being raised, it might be in your best interest to consider donating certain assets to avoid those taxes while setting your estate up to benefit from charitable tax advantages. You can also sell assets before the date of any tax changes to ensure the higher tax level doesn’t trigger higher costs for your estate.

The right estate planning attorney will keep you informed of any such changes. At Elder Advisors Law, we have a maintenance program to help you get ahead of important changes to your estate plan. Our TLC (Thorough Lifetime and Complete) Maintenance Program puts us on your team throughout your life.

While most estate planning attorneys charge by the hour, our estate plans include this program for members who need reminders and communication aimed at keeping you on top of your plan. We will help you navigate the changes above by reaching out on a regular basis to make sure your plan is up to date. The program also includes a newsletter as well as annual plan reviews. Contact our team if you’re ready to get your estate plan in place and become a member of our TLC Maintenance Program today.

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Elder Advisors Law

As Leaders in Estate Planning and Elder Law, we are passionate about helping families protect their hard-earned assets from the government, nursing homes, lawsuits or other predators.

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