Why You Probably Need Estate Planning

You have worked hard to build a legacy.  Don’t let the State determine how it will be left.  Planning for your estate is a vital necessity, and we can help you do it.  From simple wills to complex trust agreements, we can assist you in protecting and providing for you and your family.  When planning for your future and the future of your loved ones, it is important to have an estate plan in place and to regularly review and update it to keep up with your ever-changing life.

If you currently have an estate plan, have any of the following occurred since you last updated it? If so, you may want to consider revising your estate plan:

  • Material changes in your financial condition
  • Marriage or divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
  • Death of a loved one
  • Change in family circumstances, either with you or your designated personal representatives
  • New home, business, or job (including retirement)
  • Changes in beneficiaries or specific bequests in your will
  • Change in retirement or insurance plans
  • Moved to a different state

It’s important to routinely review your will, trusts, power of attorney, and advanced health care directive (living will).  Be sure you are comfortable with your designated personal representative(s) and trustee(s).  It is crucial that your fiduciaries understand the responsibilities that serving in such a position entails, and also that they understand your wishes.  Your designation of beneficiaries and gifts of specific property should be routinely reviewed for changes in circumstances, as described above. 

You should also review your beneficiaries on any life insurance policies or retirement plans.  It’s important to remember to review these beneficiary designations when reviewing your other estate planning documents, especially if a designated beneficiary has predeceased you. 

With the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, your estate plan could benefit as a result of several permanently established changes to transfer taxes, including an increase in the exemption amount for estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes and a portability option for unused exemption amounts.

Despite the perception that you can “do it yourself” or that it is “too expensive” to use an attorney, the estates that end up costing the most can occur when you attempt to draft your own estate planning documents.  Many words have legal implications beyond their ordinary meanings, and statutes set forth specific requirements for estate planning documents to be enforceable.

If you do not currently have an estate plan, or it has been a while since you have updated your estate plan, now is the time to get started!  Please give us a call; we will be glad to discuss your estate planning options with you.