In a few short weeks, the year will be over. This means that this is the perfect time of year to sit down with an estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan is still current and meets your needs with all of the changes that might have taken place within your family over the past year. Here are some issues to consider:
Marriage or Divorce
Has anyone in your family that is listed in your will or trust gotten married or been through a divorce or separation? If so, you will need to make changes to ensure that your money and assets are still going where you want them to. You may want to remove any ex-spouses or add any new spouses as beneficiaries of your estate.
Have any additions been made to your family through adoption or birth? If so, do you want to add this new family member to your will or trust as a beneficiary? This is also a good time to update your estate plan include detailed instructions that will ensure your money is only spent on a child’s healthcare needs or education.
Unfortunately, there are times when not everyone gets along in a family. To avoid these disagreements, it is important that your will include specific instructions on how your estate should be handled. If you are aware of areas of contention between family members, you may wish to address these issues to help head off any potential disputes.
Disability of a Beneficiary
Have any of your beneficiaries become physically or mentally disabled? If so, you may need to modify your trust or will instructions to ensure that your funds are used in the most effective way when that person inherits them. For example, they may need a special needs trust if they receive SSI or other types of benefits.
Poor Money Management
Sometimes, no matter how they have been raised, children or grandchildren simply do not manage their money well. If that happens, you may need to include specific terms defining how they can receive assets and take steps to ensure that their funds are protected and cannot be seized by a creditor.
This is the person that will fill your shoes if you are ever incapacitated. If you do not know who that person is, now is the time to make that decision.
Gifts up to $15,000 can be given to a child, grandchild, or friend tax free, but the gift must be given no later than December 31. As long as the gift is less than $15,000, it does not need to be reported to the IRS. You also may want to consider placing a gift in an educational trust rather than letting a child spend the money as soon as they turn 18.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today
An experienced estate planning lawyer in Allentown, PA will help you ensure that your trusts, wills, and other documents are up to date and ready for the new year. This is something that should be done regularly to meet the needs of your changing family. Contact a law firm to schedule a consultation.
Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and end-of-the-year checklist for estate plans.