Estate planning is one of those tasks that people generally avoid. It takes some mental fortitude to think about and plan for unknown events. Most every client tell us they feel a sense of relief once their plan is in place. As with anything, the more you do something, the easier it gets. Reviewing and revising your estate plan is important, especially in light of the following events.
Depending on your circumstances, you may need both a will and a trust. A will is a set of instructions that are followed when you pass. A trust is a document that creates a protection around things that you own. It becomes effective the moment you sign it and it is useful in estates where there are probate assets, where you have inheritance going to children and you want restrictions, and in tax savings situations. When the tax laws change, it can affect your estate. This may mean that if you don't update your estate plan, you may find that the additional tax burdens fall on a loved one. You may want to take another look at your estate plan if you haven't reviewed it in the past 5 years or so.
This should be an easy one for most people, especially considering it's a memorable event. If you're about to get a large sum of money, you will need to consider who will receive that money and how. If you're planning to give it to your children, you may want to do so before the assets appreciate (or before they appreciate even more) to escape the gift tax placed on amounts over a certain level (the specific amount adjusts for inflation periodically.)
Even if your property isn't directly affected during a recession, the interest rates and the declining asset values may impact you more than you think. In some cases, it may work to your advantage, so it's worth seeing what a qualified attorney can do to restructure your finances. This can either be done through documented gifts or through transfers within a family. If you're worried about transferring because it reduces your overall net worth, there are trusts available that can ensure a sustainable income specifically for you in the future.
Changes in Relationships
You'll need to be quick in changing your estate plan should you want to add or remove someone. Typically there's more than meets the eye when it comes to wills and marriage or more especially unmarried relationships of long duration. Retirement assets, savings bonds and life insurance can hall have an impact on your estate. Joint checking accounts and major purchases can affect the amount you assume someone will get and the amount they actually receive. Divorce especially makes for a complicated situation with estate planning (even with prenups), so it's best to get professional legal advice in this case.
Creating an estate plan can be an intimidating and even uncomfortable process, but it doesn’t have to be. We help guide you through the tough questions and even involve key members of your family, if you’d like, in the discussions. For more information on how we can help, call any member of our team at your convenience.