Estate Plan Annual Check Up

The new year is upon us, and there is no better time than now to take a quick check of how your estate plan is doing.  If you do not yet have an estate plan, feel free to contact our estate planning attorneys who can help you understand what some basic first steps would look like.  If you have an estate plan, but have not reviewed it for some time, we can help you make any necessary adjustments based on changes in your life or to the laws.

Here are a few issues to examine when considering establishing or updating an estate plan:

  1. Planning Objectives
    Your plan should be comprehensive enough to achieve multiple lifetime and estate planning objectives, such as appointing someone to make health care and financial decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity andto take care of your loved ones after you pass away.  This type of planning implicates many areas of the law, including individual, fiduciary and estate taxation, powers of attorney, and trusts and estates.  We know from experience that different people have different priorities.  Our estate planning attorneys will work with you to understand what is important to you and the best methods to achieve your goals.
  2. The Beneficiary(ies) of your Estate Plan
    Who do you want to receive a share of your assets after you pass away?  Has anyone been added to (or subtracted from) this list since the last time you looked at your estate plan (perhaps as the result of a birth, marriage, divorce or death)?  Have you thought through and spelled out your wishes concerning the division of your assets in the event one of your primary beneficiaries predeceases you?
  3. Establish / Update Documents to Maximize Tax Savings and a Tangled Probate Process
    State and Federal laws about how transferred assets are taxed can be complex and change frequently.  To ensure that your estate plan is as tax efficient as possible in light of your wishes and objectives, it is important to periodically review your estate plan with an estate planning professional.
  4. Understand the Benefits of Establishing and Maintaining Trusts
    Trusts can be very effective and efficient estate planning tools.  A trust is an arrangement that allows a third party (or trustee) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary.  There are a wide variety of trusts, each having specific goals, many of which involve probate avoidance and tax efficiency.

These four issues are only meant as a starting point to get you thinking about reviewing or establishing an estate plan.  There is really no substitute for sitting down and speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney about your unique situation and specific goals.

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