Some people change their wills every time there’s a small family skirmish. However, most sign their wills and shove them in a drawer and try not to think about death. This is a mistake, for them and their families.
Even if your own life never changes, there are changes in the law and changes in the lives of the people around you that merit a review of your will and your estate plan every three or four years. If there are major changes in your family, like death, divorce, birth or marriage, you definitely need a review. However, if you don’t remember who you named as executor or who you want to make health care decisions on your behalf in a while, you need an estate plan review.
Forbes’ recent article, “Why You Should Change Your Will Now,” warns us that if you’ve taken the “one and done” approach to your estate plan, think again. In addition to the reasons already mentioned, your assets may have changed dramatically since you signed your will. The plan you put in place years ago, may not have considered new federal and state estate taxes. Now that you’ve accumulated significant wealth that will be passed on to your children, you might need to review your plans for that wealth for your children.
You may want to include grandchildren to help pay for their college education.
It is also not uncommon for parents to want to protect their children from themselves. This can be because of addiction issues or a lack of financial literacy. If that’s an issue, some parents elect to hold monies in trust for adult children, as a way to ensure that the funds will be there throughout the child’s lifetime.
A person’s estate plan should grow with them over time. An estate plan for a twenty-something may be very basic, but a newly-married couple will want to include provisions for their spouse. Parents need to think about providing for and protecting their children. Adult children have another set of concerns and you need prepare for the possibility of divorcing spouses, poor life choices, addiction issues and just poor money management. There are many stages in life when you may need to readjust the provisions for your children in your estate planning documents.
The first task is locating the will, while the second is making an appointment to meet with your estate planning attorney. There may be opportunities for tax savings that didn’t exist when the will was first created, or strategies that are no longer necessary. The recent tax law changes have radically impacted estate plans. The elaborate trust planning in older wills may no longer be needed and can unnecessary. With the estate tax exemption rising to over $5 million in New York State, many people no longer need to design their planning to avoid taxes and can concentrate on other important family or legacy issues.
Contact our firm today to update your estate plan and redraft your will and trust.
Reference: Forbes (August 27, 2019) “Why You Should Change Your Will Now”