Yes, 2020 was a year unlike any other. So many challenges. So much negativity. But if we slow down and really think about it, hopefully we can identify some good things learned.
Hopefully, we can place a renewed focus on what’s truly important.
Preparing for your future is one of those things. Making things easier for your loved ones, is another. Take some time in the coming weeks to make sure your estate plan is done and that it’s current. Make it a point to get it done!
You may think once you’ve had it drafted that, like the old infomercial tagline, you can just “set it, and forget it.”
Even a plan that is only a few years old can be seriously outdated. Changes in your personal circumstances, your health, or your finances could impact the intentions you originally intended in your estate planning documents. They could make your plan obsolete, or worse, create greater burdens for your family.
There may also be changes in the laws that affect your Wills, asset protection planning for Medicaid and nursing homes, and estate and retirement taxation.
Important reasons why you may to need to update your estate plan
1. Significant changes to federal gift and estate tax law went into effect in 2018. And Congress just passed legislation to substantially alter income tax deferral opportunities with regard to inherited retirement accounts. And in light of changes in the White House, it’s safe to assume that additional changes are on the horizon and these changes may not be good for many tax payers.
2. Medicaid eligibility and nursing home rules are constantly changing (usually for the worse). Because these rules make it much more difficult to qualify for Medicaid and to protect your home and money if you enter a nursing home, they also suggest that you start your planning process much earlier.
3. Changes may have occurred since you executed your estate plan. For example:
• Are the individuals named in the Will still capable of handling their financial affairs?
• Should the amounts of any bequests be increased or reduced because of changed needs of the beneficiaries or the passage of time?
• Has any new property been acquired that should be referred to in the Will?
• Have loans or advances been made to any beneficiaries named in the Will requiring adjustment of their bequests?
• Have there been any births or any family members or beneficiaries who have died?
• Has there been a change in your or a beneficiary’s marital status?
• Has there been a change in your relationship with your executor or guardian?
As you can see, there are many reasons you need to periodically review your estate tax planning strategy. But more than anything, you need to continue to be protected.
You’ve spent lots of effort and time creating your estate plan…to communicate your wishes, identify who will act on your behalf and protect all you’ve worked for. And perhaps to perpetuate your legacy. Don’t let this all be in vain.
So put this past year behind you. Take the steps to make sure your plan is up to date.
And if you’re not sure if your plan needs changes or has been impacted by changes in law, give us a call and we’ll gladly give you a hand.