It’s not that tough for your estate plan to easily outdate itself. Given the changing tax laws, regulations, and situations in life, estate plans should be looked at as fluid documents, not as unchanging set-in-concrete plans.
AZ Big Media’s recent article, “Here are 8 reasons to revisit your estate plan,” provides some common reasons to make this important review:
Changes in Tax Laws. One needs only look back to 2001, when Congress passed broad tax legislation that started a dramatic shift in estate planning. Are you one of those whose estate plan was created before these changes were enacted? Without a review by a qualified estate planning attorney, you may be facing higher exemption amounts that may unintentionally impact married couples relying on traditional marital-non-marital trusts.
Changes in Marital Laws. Since 2013, federal law has recognized same-sex marriage. In 2015, the recognition of same-sex marriage became mandatory in all 50 states, which means potential new planning opportunities for these couples.
Different Family Dynamics. There are going to be marriages, divorces, new children and grandchildren, as well as family members passing away or adding responsibility for an individual with special needs. Any change in circumstances should trigger a review of your estate plan—especially when a person needs to be removed from a plan because of death or divorce.
Moving Out-of-State. Moving can affect tax rates, tax types, probate laws and even the availability of certain types of trust. Some states are also community property states. There has also been the expansion of decanting, which is the amending of an irrevocable trust by pouring it into a new trust document, which should necessitate a review of these issues.
Beneficiary Designations Need a Review. Beneficiary designations must be reviewed periodically to ensure that they are consistent with the overall estate plan.
The Up-to-Date Financial Picture. Your investment portfolio is dynamic and changes over time. For instance, the addition of real estate or a business to a portfolio requires being sure that a trustee, durable power of attorney, or a personal representative knows and is authorized to carry out the wishes regarding succession or sale.
Changes in Views on Charitable Giving. Perhaps you want to add a charitable gift or a new cause to the plan. You should do this and make sure that all charitable beneficiaries are properly identified.
Review your estate plan to make sure it meets your current wishes, is properly funded, the assets are properly titled and any necessary changes have been made. An updated estate plan is the best way to be sure that your wishes are clearly stated and executed when the time comes.
Reference: AZ Big Media (September 1, 2017) “Here are 8 reasons to revisit your estate plan”