April 11, 2014

Despite our best efforts, estate planning is not a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. Your life changes, your assets change, the laws change — and if your plan doesn’t change, your family gets caught holding the bag. The people you love most end up bearing the brunt of your failure to act.

Conducting a proper review of your estate plan will help identify the potential need to update your plan because of:

Life transitions:  Have any babies been born, loved ones died, people gotten divorced or married?   If so, you need to revisit your plan.

Changes in the law:  Changes in federal and state tax laws may require updates to your healthcare and financial powers of attorney. State regulations can also be revised to open up new wealth planning strategies that should be a part of your estate plan.

Changes in assets:  Has your net worth gone up or down?  Have you invested in any new assets, such as businesses, opened new bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, real estate or anything similar?  If so, your plan needs to be revisited.  And the spreadsheet of assets you have for your family (you DO have one, right?) needs updating.

Funding of assets and beneficiary designations:  One of the most common mistakes people make is not properly completing the transfer of assets into a trust within their estate plan.  Another common error is having beneficiary designations that are inconsistent with the distribution language in the estate plan.  We recommend a review of those matters at least annually.

If you do not review your plan and update it regularly, your family will have to deal with the consequences.

If you would like more information about creating or updating your estate plan, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $950 for an Estate Plan Checkup, but if you are an existing client, we’ll waive that fee and if you are coming to us for the first time, we can waive all but $200 of the fee. Call (407) 574-8125 today and mention this article.