The Importance of the Estate Planning Checkup

After arranging your accounts and property with an estate planning attorney, it is easy to assume that you have checked off estate planning off your list forever.  The reality is not so simple.  Not only do tax laws frequently change, but so does life.  The smallest change could have a big impact on your estate planning.  You therefore need to revisit your estate plan each year to ensure your plan still accurately reflects your values, needs, and hopes for your legacy.

To make sure you retain control over your accounts and property if you are unable to manage your own affairs after you have passed away, plan an annual check up of your estate plan here at Martone Law Firm.  Even if you have already created a plan you feel confident about, circumstances surrounding your decisions may change.  Marriages end, children grow up, and serious illnesses occur.  When laws change, some estate planning techniques may become outdated.  Pick a date each year, be it your birthday, beginning of the year, or tax season, to review your estate plan with your attorney. 

A look into how your accounts and property are titled can reveal the need for potential changes.  Joint ownership, for example, can become messy in the wake of a divorce.  Births or deaths of loved ones may lead you to change your beneficiaries.  The person you named as one of your trusted decision-makers may no longer be the best option due to relationship changes or physical relocation.  Such changes can occur at any moment, so it is worth the yearly check up to ensure that your wishes are reflected in your estate plans.

Significant financial change can also be a good reason for a checkup. If you have paid off debt, taken on a new job, bout a house, or made new investments, you will want your estate plan to reflect these changes.  If you have a trust, the only way to ensure that your accounts and property are kept out of probate is to have all of your accounts and property appropriately funded into the trust.  Funding the trust involves changing the owner of an account or piece of property from you as an individual to you as the trustee of the trust.  In some cases, we may have discussed designating your trust as the beneficiary of an account instead of changing the owner.  If you have questions about what should be funded into your trust, please give us a call. If you or your family have undergone any changes since your estate planning documents were initially created, now is the perfect time to reach out for an estate plan review.  If you have not yet set up your estate plan, now is the time to do so.  Do not fail to protect your loved ones or yourself – contact us today. We are available for in-person, video, and telephone appointments.