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Is It Time for a Review of Your Estate Plans?

If you haven’t already thought about it, now’s the time to take a look into the importance of creating an estate plan that suits your needs. Estate planning can be an uncomfortable topic to think about, however it can save your loved ones from added stress during what is likely an already difficult time of grieving. An estate plan involves meeting with your attorney to develop a comprehensive plan as to who will be take responsibility if you were to become incapacitated and what will happen with your assets upon your death.

According to research, only 33% of U.S. adults have created estate plan documents. [1]Not only is it extremely important to create an estate plan, but it is essential to review your estate plan every few years, or more frequently if there are any major events happening in your life. Ideally, you want to review your estate plan every three to five (3-5) years. Periodic reviews of your Trust (if you have one), Will and other estate planning documents are crucial in ensuring your documents are still meeting your goals.

As stated in the Arizona Attorney Daily[2], there are several situations, or triggers, that warrant a review of your current estate plan documents. Some of these situations include:

· Tax laws have changed, and their change could impact you.

o Gift tax, estate tax, inheritance tax, generation-skipping tax, and income tax (including capital gains) all need to be considered when creating your plan.

o For example, the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion just increased this year to seventeen thousand ($17,000). This is the amount of money that one person can transfer to another as a gift without either party incurring any tax or utilizing any of their lifetime exemption.

· You’ve recently purchased a home, or real estate investment property. There are probate and possible tax implications that can occur if you don’t work with your trust attorney in ensuring things are properly titled.

· Coming into large sums of money, i.e., selling your home or business, winning the lottery or receiving an inheritance. You will want to explore options for protecting those assets, transferring those assets at your death and minimizing taxes for these types of awards. You may also want to reallocate your funds for your children and grandchildren or give thought to donating to charities.

· A significant decrease in your assets, i.e., stock market crashes, changes in the real estate market.

· Marital Status changed, or you have recently been widowed. During either one of these events, it’s likely that assets will need to be retitled to reflect the change.

· You’ve become a parent/had more kids. Choosing a guardian for your minor children is imperative, and it’s important to revisit this choice regularly. You may also want to look into creating sub-trusts for your children or set restrictions on when they can receive any distributions of money.

· Your child(ren) has become an adult (reached the age of majority 18). At this time, you can remove any created guardianships, and you may want to include your adult child as an agent in your powers of attorney documents.

· You have retired or are planning to. You will want to look at your designated beneficiaries on your retirement plans and create a solid plan for any long-term care you may need in the future.

· An heir or beneficiary has passed away, or someone you previously named in your documents has passed away.

· Your intended Trustee, Personal Representative, or Power of Attorney is no longer appropriate to serve, i.e., they have become ill, passed away, or may no longer be a trusted person.

· You moved states or are planning to. Tax laws and asset protections vary state to state so it is important to review your plan with an attorney licensed in the state you will be moving to.

This is not an all-inclusive list of situations that warrant the need for a review of your estate plan documents. However, the hope is that by recognizing and understanding the effects these events can have will help you become more aware of your life events and will aid you in identifying when you need to speak to your attorney to assess your current plan and whether any changes are necessary.


[1]Siege Media, Estate Planning Statistics to Read Before Writing Your Will, January 6, 2023. https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/estate-planning-statistics#:~:text=O%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B,wishes%20with%20your%20loved%20ones.

[2]Family Wealth Matters, Is it time for estate plan review? You be the judge,January 19, 2023.


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Meet Margaret Tritch Buonocore

Margaret Tritch Buonocore began her legal career in Los Angeles as a litigator. She then moved to London where, after completing her LLM, she worked in international business and finance for almost a decade structuring corporate finance transactions, equity offerings, debt, and derivative instruments focusing on contract and securities law issues. Learn More…

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