Certain events should trigger an estate plan checkup.
Nothing in your life happens in a vacuum.
Your personal and work decisions impact each other.
The decisions of others also can affect you and your loved ones.
According to a recent Kiplinger article titled “2021 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?,” what happens can require you to update your estate plan.
What events should lead to a “full physical exam” of your estate plan?
Moving to Another State.
Although all Americans are subject to federal laws, states do not have universal estate planning laws.
Because your new state may handle taxes and property differently from your former state, you will need to review your plan.
An experienced estate planning attorney in your new state will be able to create or update your estate plan accordingly.
Changes in Laws.
Each new administration wants to make new laws.
For this reason, your federal estate tax exemption (presently $11.7 million per taxpayer) could change every few years.
As a result, you will want to conduct an estate plan checkup regularly.
Powers of Attorney.
You are responsible for your own legal, financial, personal, business, and health care decisions.
If you become incapacitated, you will no longer be taking care of business.
Through power of attorney documents and health care directives, you appoint an agent (and preferably several backup agents) to make these decisions and manage these responsibilities on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
This person should be someone you trust at least 126 percent.
You should also be clear when it comes to your wishes for treatment and end-of-life care.
Your last will and testament is used to distribute assets, name an executor, and nominate a guardian for any minor children.
With an outdated last will and testament, you will leave your loved ones with significant burdens just when they least need them.
Why leave them with a mess in the midst of their grief?
You should also run a checkup on your revocable living trust.
Review your successor appointments and trustees to make sure they are people who will be able to handle the roles.
Perhaps your personal and financial circumstances are such that a corporate fiduciary is needed.
A trust should review inheritance and estate tax burdens.
What if you have an irrevocable trust rather than a revocable trust?
It is important for you to check in on your trustee.
This person must accurately complete the duties of annual tax returns, management, and administration for the trust.
You do not want to set anyone up for failure.
Gifts are a helpful aspect of estate planning and a savvy way to reduce your taxable estate, even removing future growth on the gifted assets.
And, giving with “warm hands” allows you to see your heirs enjoy your generosity.
To avoid making costly mistakes, you will need to checkup on your estate planning.
My rule of thumb is to conduct a “self-exam” at least every two years, if not a “full physical exam,” especially when life happens.
Reference: Kiplinger (July 28, 2021) “2021 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?”