After completing your initial estate planning, it is easy to assume that you have checked estate planning off of your list forever. The reality is not so simple. Not only do tax laws frequently change, but so does your life. The smallest change could have a big impact on your estate planning. Thus, estate plans should be revisited on a regular basis to ensure your plan still accurately reflects your values, needs, and hopes for your legacy.
To make sure you retain control of your accounts and property if you are unable to manage your own affairs and after you have passed away, plan a regular checkup of your estate plan with our office. Even if you have already created a plan you feel confident about, circumstances surrounding your decisions may change. Marriages end, children grow up, life circumstances change, and serious illnesses occur. When laws change, some estate planning techniques can become outdated. Pick a date, be it your birthday, the beginning of the year, or tax season, to do an annual self-review. Contact your estate plan with your attorney at least every three years for a formal review (or sooner if you have a change in your wishes or circumstances).
A look into how your accounts and property are titled can reveal the need for potential changes. Asset titling needs to be in alignment with your wishes and documents in order for your estate plan to be effective. When reviewing estate plans, this is one of the most common areas where we find critical updates are needed.
The person you named as one of your trusted decision-makers (e.g., alternate trustee, personal representative, agent under a financial power of attorney, or agent under a medical power of attorney) may no longer be the best option due to relationship changes or other circumstances. Such changes can occur at any moment, so it is worth a regular checkup to ensure your wishes are reflected in your estate plans.
In light of the SECURE Act (passed in 2020 and for which proposed regulations were released earlier this year) and the elimination of the lifetime stretch for non-spouse beneficiaries, it is important to review any retirement accounts you may own prior to changing the beneficiary designation.
Life is ever changing. What may seem like a small change can impact your estate plan greatly. If you have not had a formal review completed for your estate plan, now is the perfect time to reach out to us for an estate plan review. If you have not yet set up your estate plan, now is the time to do so. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Do not fail your loved ones or yourself—contact us today.