Compliments of The Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law
Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys
Estate planning isn’t meant to be a “one and done” type of project. Estate planning reflects the totality of a person’s life, and therefore it should reflect changes that occur in our lives. Not only is a periodic review necessary, it also provides peace of mind in knowing your family’s needs are covered today in case the unthinkable were to happen tomorrow.
Here are the 10 biggest reasons your estate plan needs your attention:
- Have you moved? According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, in 2011 alone, new home purchases increased by 11 percent. Two years later, new home purchases decreased by 18 percent. These are the types of life changes we work for, but sometimes forget to include in our estate plan until years later. Moving, especially to a different state, can impact your estate plan significantly.
- Have you or your spouse received an inheritance? If so, don’t forget the tax benefits that can help you make the most of the windfall. Your estate planning attorney can show you effective tools that allow you to make your inheritance help achieve your goals.
- Tax laws change every year. Have you anticipated and accounted for those changes? Don’t underestimate the importance of tax planning.
- You love your children, but have you named a guardian to protect them should you be unable to do so? Even if you have, revisit your decisions occasionally. Your sister might have been perfect a few years ago, but she may now be traveling often due to a job promotion. Your brother or perhaps your spouse’s sister might be better choices today.
- Consider Medicaid/Medi-Cal planning for your beneficiaries. For instance, you may have left to your aunt, who’s always felt more like a sibling, a considerable inheritance should she outlive you. But what if that inheritance will be anything but a blessing for her? Is she trying to qualify for Medicaid/Medi-Cal? Receiving a financial gift could prevent her from doing so. Including a special needs trust for her could keep those assets from disqualifying her from Medicaid/Medi-Cal.
- Have you gotten married or perhaps remarried? If so, you’ll need to reconsider your entire estate plan. Also, don’t forget to make changes on your retirement plan. You can’t simply change your beneficiary in your will or trust. You must change the beneficiary designation with the custodian or plan. Otherwise, your former spouse may end up with a windfall you didn’t intend.
- Divorce is another event that will require a review of your plan. With nearly half of all first marriages, up to 70 percent of second marriages and an alarming 85 percent of third marriages ending in divorce, it’s crucial you recognize the challenges and have them reflected in your estate plan.
- Selling your home is a big decision. Again, there are long-term financial and tax implications to consider.
- Perhaps you welcomed a new grandchild this year? Any adoptions? Be sure to reflect additions to your family in your estate plan.
- And finally, sometimes, we change our minds. It’s human to rethink things. If this involves your assets, it’s a great time to meet with your estate planning attorney.
The people, property, and perceptions in your life can change. Reviewing your estate plan periodically is necessary and smart. Consult a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure your estate plan reflects the future, not the past.