When Is It Time To Update Your Estate Planning?

The short answer is NOW. If you have not at least reviewed your estate planning within the last year or two, you may be leaving loose ends that need some tidying up. While contemplating incapacity and death is never an enjoyable task, it’s critical that your affairs be in order at all times.

A good review starts with making a list of all of your assets and verifying how they are owned and who the beneficiaries are, if applicable.

For example, did you purchase a new car? If so, did you remember to add the TOD (transfer on death?) Did you open any new bank accounts? Are they properly titled? See my last blog about being “on” a bank account. Did you remember to change the beneficiaries on your life insurance? Do you have a trust? If so, are assets titled or payable to the trust upon your death? Is there an appropriate contingent beneficiary named?

Have circumstances in your life or your family members’ lives changed? For example, are your children now adults, but you still have planning from when they were minors? (I applaud you for having done the planning when your children were minors; many parents ignore this important investment.) But now it’s time for you to bring everything up to date. Do you have beneficiaries who may need special assistance in their daily life or just with handling finances? Does your estate plan address those situations?

If it’s been several years since you looked at your documents, and had your estate planning attorney review them, you should definitely be making an appointment. We have seen many changes in income and estate tax laws, including rules about distributions from tax deferred accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s. A good review is particularly important for individuals who may have set up separate trusts for husband and wife for estate tax planning purposes.

We’ve also had changes in Missouri’s trust laws which may impact your planning. Better asset protection may be available for you and your spouse with the use of a qualified spousal trust. Accounting and notice rules for irrevocable trusts may expose information about your assets to beneficiaries you prefer not have that information after your death.

As the years go by, it does seem as if time speeds up, so don’t wait to take this crucial step to protect your family/friends, your assets, and of course, your wishes. At Cripps & Simmons we welcome both prior clients and new clients to have their estate planning reviewed. Just give our office a call to set up a time to meet with one our experienced attorneys.