Is it Time to Update Your Estate Plan?
Your will is your strategic end-of-life plan — and like any good business strategic plan, it needs to be updated periodically to reflect changes in your life. Any number of internal and external factors can impact your estate plan. A significant change in assets is an excellent reason to review your will. Or, with the passage of time, your mind may have changed about some of your earlier estate planning decisions.
Changes in the family that should prompt an update to your plan include the following:
- Divorce — If you or others in your family have divorced, provisions for ex-spouses may need to be restructured.
- Weddings — New spouses may not automatically be taken care of in the way you desire. Children from a former marriage may need protecting.
- Birth or adoption of children — Guardianship should be addressed if you have a child.
- Becoming a grandparent — As families grow, some people choose to make provisions for the education of their grandchildren.
- Deaths — If a loved one to whom you left a significant portion of your estate predeceases you, reviewing your heirs is a good idea.
Illness is another major factor that impacts estate planning. If you or a loved one suffers a serious illness, you may want to add long-term or nursing home care provisions to your estate plan. Certain trusts allow assets to be disbursed to the disabled without disqualifying them from receiving government benefits.
Most people are concerned about how their assets will be taxed and how they can minimize the burden for their heirs. In truth, estate taxes are constantly changing. Estate planning attorneys remain current with the latest legislation and advise clients on opportunities and potential challenges. For example, the maximum federal tax-free transfer that can be made to families increased on January 1, 2014 by an additional $90,000.
Consult a lawyer in South Maryland to learn more about creating an effective estate plan.