Congratulations! If you are reading this article you are likely among the minority of U.S. citizens who has an estate plan. While worthy of a pat on the back, having a plan is only the start of responsible asset management. Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, you now need to keep it on course with periodic updates.
As a rule of thumb, if your estate plan is more than three years old, you should sit down with your estate planner for a review. Likewise, whenever tax laws or other new, relevant legislation comes into effect, it is important to revisit your plan. Beyond these basics, there are five other circumstances wherein updating your asset management is essential.
You move from one state to another. Estate planning laws are not national but vary between states, and the differences can be substantive. Regulations around powers of attorney, advance medical directives, and living wills are variable and some states require that a spouse inherit a minimum portion of the estate. In the event of a move, familiarizing yourself with these differences is critical.
New love enters your life. This may happen with the arrival of a new child or grandchild, the addition of an in-law, or the spark of fresh affection. In such happy moments, it is important to revise your estate plan to ensure that new family members are named and specifically included.
Old love leaves your life. Circumstances may arise wherein it is appropriate to delete someone who was previously included in your estate plan. A death, divorce, or show of irresponsibility might warrant such a decision and here, too, it is important to act readily and thoughtfully.
A significant change in your assets or liability. This is another cause for review of your estate plan, regardless of whether this change is provoked by an increase or decrease in value. In such a circumstance, you will want to review how your estate has been divided and determine whether the current breakdown continues to make sense.
Whenever the account values shift, beneficiary designations of IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement plans must also be updated. Often, such forms go a decade or more without review, causing unforeseen conflict when the proverbial dust settles. To ensure that annuities, life insurance, financial accounts, and other assets are distributed as intended, a periodic review of relevant documents is essential.
Remember that people change. It may be that executors or trustees become more or less appropriate with the passage of time and growth of relationships. The people appointed to these roles are those who guarantee that your estate plan is executed as intended. Accordingly, careful consideration of these appointments is important and from time to time it is worth reviewing whether changes ought to be made. Ask yourself whether your chosen executor or trustee is still able and willing to perform the task as you intend, and consider whether changes in your estate mean that someone else may be better suited for the role.
Keeping these life events or situations in mind can help keep your estate plan relevant and your assets protected as you wish them to be. Are you ready for an estate plan update? Contact the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia and schedule a review of your existing estate plan.
Contact the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia
After decades of helping families and individuals with estate planning, we have our fingers firmly on the pulse of the discussions that you should be having with your parents or children, and can help guide that process. Contact us today to learn more about us and the estate planning services we offer!