Every estate plan needs an occasional checkup.
You have an estate plan in place from years ago.
Perhaps you think your affairs are in order.
They may be.
On the other hand, the may not be.
Similar to doctor visits, checkups are important.
According to a recent Kiplinger article titled “2021 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?,” the health of your estate planning requires you to review your plan every few years.
Although a common rule of thumb is to schedule an estate plan checkup every four years, my recommendation is at least every two years.
What are some changes warranting a review?
Moving to a new state.
Although federal tax laws will not be impacted by your move, each state has specific rules regarding estate taxes, inheritances taxes, and income taxes.
As a result, you will need to schedule an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney in your new state to ensure you have a plan to meet your goals.
In addition to differences in laws, some states may not recognize some or all of your estate planning documents from another state as valid.
You also may need to update your contact information and inform family and advisors of any changes to your estate plan.
Changes in the law.
What happens in D.C. and the capital of each state impacts you.
Within the past five hears, many laws have changed regarding retirement accounts and taxes.
The SECURE Act effectively killed the Stretch IRA by requiring inherited IRA accounts be to drained within ten years, except for very limited exceptions.
If your estate plan utilized a Stretch IRA, you should schedule a checkup with your estate planning attorney to make necessary changes to your plan.
Old Power of Attorney.
A power of attorney grants significant financial authority to an individual when you become incapacitated.
The person you choose will be able to manage your business, financial, legal, and personal affairs.
Often investment companies and banks balk at older power of attorney documents.
They want to ensure the person appointed by you is still the one you would trust with these responsibilities.
New documents can be helpful whether you choose to keep or to change your agent.
If you choose to change your agent during your estate plan checkup, you should put it in writing and notify all necessary parties.
Health Care Power of Attorney.
Your health care power of attorney will not automatically change if you get married or divorced.
You will need to authorize your spouse to view medical records, talk with doctors, or make decisions on your behalf.
It is also helpful to document your wishes for treatment.
We use a health care treatment directive for that.
Last Will and Testament.
Many aspects of a last will and testament require a regular checkup.
If your executor has moved or died, you will need to select someone else to settle your estate.
For those with minor children, you will need to select guardians who have similar values to rear you children should you die.
Trusts are used for several reasons, including administering the inheritance of a minor child.
To ensure a smooth transition of management, you will need to review trustee and successor appointments.
You also should review how you will cover any inheritance and estate taxes.
With an irrevocable trust, the trustee is responsible for management, administration, and tax returns.
The person you selected will need to be capable of accomplishing these duties.
Gifting in the Estate Plan.
Gifting laws are tied to tax laws.
Review your gifting plan as part of your comprehensive estate plan.
By taking time to perform a regular checkup of your estate planning, you can have confidence that it is ship-shape and seaworthy.
Reference: Kiplinger (July 28, 2021) “2021 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?