Since we’re a few weeks into 2017, we invite you to remember to frequently revisit the goals you set for yourself. The key to keeping any resolution or goal is to make it specific and attainable. This year, we want to remind you of the importance of keeping your estate plan up to date. If updating or beginning your estate planning isn’t a resolution for you, we hope you will be convinced to add it to your list by the end of this article.
We are passionate about estate planning because it is the process of arranging for the management of a person’s estate, while minimizing all sorts of taxes such as gift, estate, generation skipping transfer, and income tax. Nearly everyone has an estate. It’s comprised of everything you own which can include your home, real estate, car, savings accounts, investments, life insurance, and personal possessions. Your estate planning will let you control what happens to your possessions after you die.
It’s much more than just naming where your things will go. It should also include instructions for your health care if you become disabled, naming a guardian for minor children, providing for loved ones, including life insurance to support your family, disability income if you can’t work due to illness or injury, long term care insurance, arranging for the transfer of your business at your retirement, and minimizing taxes, court costs, and legal fees.
Although the federal estate tax laws saw no major changes in 2016, for the third year in a row, estate planning goals can change over time and for many reasons. The following are examples of circumstances when your estate plan might change:
- Marriage or divorce;
- Birth or adoption of a child;
- Death or disability of a child;
- Birth or death of a grandchild;
- Marriage of a child;
- Divorce of a child;
- Death of a spouse;
- Increase or decrease in personal wealth;
- Receipt of substantial inheritance or gift;
- Sale or purchase of real estate or of a business; or
- Changes in state and federal laws.
It is important that your estate planning goals are reflected in your current documents, and that you take advantage of federal and state tax laws, which may offer opportunities for significant tax savings to you through proper planning. Any significant change in your net worth or changes in your assets due to the purchase or sale of a business or real estate may require some insightful tax planning.
If you have an estate plan in effect, you have likely invested a significant amount of time, energy and emotion into your estate plan. Therefore, it is important to make sure your plan continues to reflect your goals.
You are the most important individual involved in your estate planning. Estate planning professionals are available to assist you in this process and to help you develop the most efficient and manageable estate plan possible. The advice of a competent estate planning attorney is essential in obtaining the best possible results from your planning and hard earned wealth. The industry standard is to have your estate plan reviewed at least once every three years by an attorney, and sooner if there has been a significant change in your life like the examples mentioned above. Always start off the New Year by reviewing your documents and, if necessary, updating your estate plan to make sure it continues to meet your goals.
We invite you to consider investing a small amount of your time in your own estate planning. It is an invaluable tool that provides increased financial security and peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones. Make 2017 the year you get your estate planning in order.
JensenBayles, LLP provides a broad spectrum of legal services. Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George market for over 18 years. Please visit our web site www.jensenbayles.com or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice.