Every so often, it’s smart to methodically go through your estate planning documents and see if any tweaks are needed. Here’s a checklist to guide you through that mission.
Make sure that you review your estate plan at least once every few years to be certain that all the information is accurate and updated. It’s even more necessary if you experienced a significant change, such as marriage, divorce, children, a move, or a new child or grandchild. If laws have changed, or if your wishes have changed and you need to make substantial changes to the documents, you should visit an experienced estate planning lawyer.
Kiplinger’s recent article “2021 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?” gives us a few things to keep in mind when updating your estate plan:
Moving to Another State. Note that if you’ve recently moved to a new state, the estate laws vary in different states. Therefore, it’s wise to review your estate plan to make sure it complies with local laws and regulations.
Changes in Probate or Tax Laws. Review your estate plan with an experienced estate planning attorney to see if it’s been impacted by changes to any state or federal laws.
Powers of Attorney. A power of attorney is a document in which you authorize an agent to act on your behalf to make business, personal, legal, or financial decisions, if you become incapacitated. It must be accurate and up to date. You should also review and update your health care power of attorney. Make your wishes clear about do-not-resuscitate (DNR) provisions and tell your health care providers about your decisions. It is also important to affirm any clearly expressed wishes as to your end-of-life treatment options.
A Will. Review the details of your will, including your executor, the allocation of your estate and the potential estate tax burden. If you have minor children, you should also designate guardians for them.
Trusts. If you have a revocable living trust, look at the trustee and successor appointments. You should also check your estate and inheritance tax burden with an estate planning attorney. If you have an irrevocable trust, confirm that the trustee properly carries out the trustee duties like administration, management and annual tax returns.
Gifting Opportunities. The laws concerning gifts can change over time, so you should review any gifts and update them accordingly. You may also want to change specific gifts or recipients.
Regularly updating your estate plan can help you to avoid simple estate planning mistakes. You can also ensure that your estate plan is entirely up to date and in compliance with any state and federal laws.
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Reference: Kiplinger (July 28, 2021) “2021 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?”