When it comes to estate planning, you want to make sure that you do not have a hole in one. Estate plans cover a wide range of topics, and asset protection is one of the most important. It’s vital that you go over and check your estate plan for things you may have missed or things you need to add. Estate plans should be assessed every three to five years. You can assess them before that, of course, if there are major changes in your life.
Here are some reasons and factors that make reassessment of your estate plan a valuable tool. If these have occurred in your life, you should definitely update your estate plan. But, even if they have not, you should still do a routine assessment every three to five years.
Deaths in the Family
Unfortunately, it happens. If there is a death in the family, you will need to check and see whether that affects your estate plan. If the person who has passed on is, for instance, someone you intended to leave guardianship to or grant some other important position, you want to get that redone immediately so that there are no holes in the estate plan.
You may feel a temptation to put off making the assessment appointment, but, if something bad happens and you haven’t updated your plan, your family can really find themselves in a tough spot.
New marriages mean new relatives! If you want to include your in-laws in your estate plan, make sure that you update the plan to reflect the new people coming into the family. Or perhaps a marriage has, sadly, ended, and you want to take someone out of your plans. These are grounds for assessment.
On a related note, childcare issues are considerations for additions. If you yourself are getting married and planning on having children (or perhaps you’re combining families), you should have guardianship plans in place in the event that something happens to you or your spouse while the children are still minors.
There is a very valuable 529 plan offered by the IRS that allows you to put aside money to pay for a student’s college tuition. The money will be subject to certain tax breaks and exemptions. Generally, these plans are able to be used interstate, for public or private school (but your estate planner will, of course, check to make sure that your state’s law covers this). If you have kids in your family who are set on college, the 529 college savings program can be an important addition to your estate plan.
Changes in the Law
Estate law is complex, and it does change. For example, there are recent alterations to the law in the form of the gift tax and the estate tax, where the exemption amount has increased. Now, $22.4 million in income can be excluded by a couple (with over $11 million each available for exclusion by a single person). Tax-exempt gifts at or over this amount should be given now, in case the law sunsets. This is an example of a change in the law that can alter the way your estate plan is formulated.
Make sure there isn’t a hole in one of your asset protection plans by updating and checking them at regular intervals. This way, no one will get left out of your estate plan and things will be smooth sailing—i.e. there will be no need for probate court. Schedule an appointment today if you find that you’re in need of making any changes.