5 Important Considerations for an End-of-the-Year Estate Plan Review
In addition to opening Christmas presents and toasting the new year, the end of the calendar year is also a time to review your estate plan and create a strategy for reaching your financial goals in 2021. This time of year is a good time to do an estate plan “check-up.” An up-to-date estate plan can ensure that your final wishes are clear, offer peace of mind that your family is taken care of after you have passed, and protect your rights and financial interests.
When a person passes away without an estate plan, their state of residence distributes their assets according to the state laws. This means that the person has little say in how their assets are disseminated after they die. To ensure that your final wishes are followed, make sure to have a knowledgeable attorney assist you in making a comprehensive estate plan.
Review Your Current Estate Plan for Needed Changes
As you are reviewing your estate plan, ask yourself the following questions:
- What family changes have taken place this year? Did you get married or divorced?
Have you or your spouse had a baby, or are you planning to? Have there been any deaths in the family this year? Changes such as these can affect your estate plans.
- How has your financial status changed? Have you experienced any changes in income, expenses, investments, or charitable giving this year? If so, it may be helpful to seek help from a financial advisor. If you wish to donate to charity, keep in mind that Dec. 31 is the deadline if you wish to deduct the donations from your 2020 tax return. Many financial experts also encourage people to max out their retirement contributions before the end of the calendar year. If you have received an inheritance this year, an estate planning attorney can help you protect or invest this extra income.
- How have applicable laws changed? In addition to whatever changes may have occurred in your life and that of your family, the laws that pertain to the various types of estate planning tools are constantly being amended as well. With this in mind, it is a good idea to conduct a full review of your entire estate plan at least every five years to ensure that your plan is still legally sound.
- Are you comfortable with your executor, trustees, bequests, and guardians named in your will and trusts? Review those people named as financial and medical powers of attorney to make sure that they are still appropriate choices. You should also take the time to review what you have decided to leave to specific heirs. The choices you made a few years ago might not seem as appropriate now, depending on family dynamics, relationships, and many other potential factors.
- Are your end-of-life instructions up to date? If your living will and any advance medical directives are more than five years old, consult an attorney for assistance in updating them. You may feel differently about your end-of-life plans than you did when you created the documents. The applicable laws may have changed as well. Also, double-check that your current life, long-term care, and liability insurance plans are currently meeting your needs.
Get Trustworthy Legal Assistance
If you do not currently have an estate plan or you just need to make adjustments to an existing plan, our experienced Naperville estate planning lawyers can help provide the direction you need. Contact the Gierach Law Firm today to schedule a confidential consultation. Call 630-756-1160 for an appointment. You can also click or tap here for our free downloadable estate planning guides.