Don’t Let Your Estate Plan Waste Away on the Shelf

Don’t Let Your Estate Plan Waste Away on the Shelf

Do you already have an estate plan? Has that estate plan been sitting on the shelf for a number of years? If so, it may be time for a review so your planning is not derailed by your evolving life or by the ever-changing tax laws. Consider these reasons for dusting off your estate plan so it is not just expensive paper sitting on your shelf:

Do you already have an estate plan? Has that estate plan been sitting on the shelf for a number of years? If so, it may be time for a review so your planning is not derailed by your evolving life or by the ever-changing tax laws. Consider these reasons for dusting off your estate plan so it is not just expensive paper sitting on your shelf:

Does your estate plan deal only with estate taxes?
Changes in the tax laws mean good estate planning now deals with income tax planning, not just minimizing estate taxes. There are significant opportunities in this area and your estate plan should be amended to take advantage of changes in the tax laws.

Is it time to name or change guardians?
If your estate plan was created before you had children, this is one decision you need to make and document. If you do not make the decision, someone else will have to do it without your input or wishes being known. If you went through this when your children were quite young, it may be time to think of how things have changed since you first decided upon guardians. Are the guardians you named still who you want to raise your children if you were not around to do so?
Have you married, divorced, or remarried?
A change in marital status should always prompt you to revisit your estate plan so you can make sure your assets go to who you want, when you want. This means changing your bequests as well as your beneficiary designations. Since federal law trumps state law when it comes to beneficiary designations, if your ex-spouse is the named beneficiary, that is who will inherit the money regardless of what your other documents say.
Is one spouse receiving public benefits to help with nursing home expenses?
If so, an update of your estate plan could be key to the continuation of those benefits. Once someone qualifies for Medicaid, acquiring other assets must be handled through a special needs trust to avoid losing benefits. This is one update that should never be ignored.
Without updating, your estate planning documents become expensive paper wasting away on the shelf. As your life and the times evolve, make sure your estate plan does, too

Does your estate plan deal only with estate taxes?
Changes in the tax laws mean good estate planning now deals with income tax planning, not just minimizing estate taxes. There are significant opportunities in this area and your estate plan should be amended to take advantage of changes in the tax laws.

Is it time to name or change guardians?
If your estate plan was created before you had children, this is one decision you need to make and document. If you do not make the decision, someone else will have to do it without your input or wishes being known. If you went through this when your children were quite young, it may be time to think of how things have changed since you first decided upon guardians. Are the guardians you named still who you want to raise your children if you were not around to do so?
Have you married, divorced, or remarried?
A change in marital status should always prompt you to revisit your estate plan so you can make sure your assets go to who you want, when you want. This means changing your bequests as well as your beneficiary designations. Since federal law trumps state law when it comes to beneficiary designations, if your ex-spouse is the named beneficiary, that is who will inherit the money regardless of what your other documents say.
Is one spouse receiving public benefits to help with nursing home expenses?
If so, an update of your estate plan could be key to the continuation of those benefits. Once someone qualifies for Medicaid, acquiring other assets must be handled through a special needs trust to avoid losing benefits. This is one update that should never be ignored.
Without updating, your estate planning documents become expensive paper wasting away on the shelf. As your life and the times evolve, make sure your estate plan does, too