The start of the year is the time to review and revisit your estate plan. Just like going to the doctor and dentist for regular exams, it’s essential self-care. A recent article from Kiplinger, “Need an Estate Planning Checkup? Now is the Perfect Time,” advises having an annual checkup with your estate planning attorney before anything goes wrong.
Estate planning is about people. It names someone we trust to administer our estate and follow our wishes. It ensures that loved ones will be protected when we are no longer here. It also ensures that no one is left out or wrongfully included.
After the holiday season, family gatherings are an excellent time to review the family situation and conduct an estate planning checkup. Children have grown into adulthood. Perhaps they’ve married and had children. What we planned to leave for them as minors may be different now. If your family suffered a loss last year, it might be time to reallocate funds or change beneficiaries.
This is the time to evaluate who you have named as an executor or entrusted with powers of attorney. They may have had their own health issues, suffered memory loss, or undergone life changes. These should also be reviewed when creating a new will or trust.
Property values have probably changed over the years. Real estate acquired decades ago may have appreciated far more than anticipated. If the intent is to leave equal shares of assets to beneficiaries, the property’s new value must be considered.
Depending on your assets, you may need to engage an expert to provide current valuations for real property, artwork, and other high-value assets—the more recent your numbers, the better your estate plan. If you expect significant changes in the coming year, from selling property or making other adjustments, don’t wait until next year to order a new valuation.
Tax laws have changed a great deal in recent years. Lately, Washington has adjusted estate tax and gift taxes for inflation, so you may be able to leave more significant gifts to children and grandchildren. An experienced estate planning attorney will allow you to maximize the estate that you leave.
Your estate planning checkup should include reviewing recent tax law changes and looking at the legal environment for the coming year. Discuss how aggressive you want to be with your estate planning. The same goes for life changes which may have legal consequences. All of this needs to be discussed candidly with your estate planning attorney.
You may leave your meeting with a to-do list or find your estate plan still works. Either way, you’ll feel better after your estate planning checkup.
Reference: Kiplinger (Jan. 30, 2023) “Need an Estate Planning Checkup? Now is the Perfect Time”
(By Appointment Only)
14425 Falcon Head Blvd
Austin, TX 78738