If you have taken the important step to establish at least a basic estate plan, you are ahead of the majority of people. However, your job isn’t done after putting a plan into place. Estate plans need to be reviewed and most likely revised from time to time.
Here are some of the most common reasons to speak with your estate planning attorney about the need to update your estate plan.
- Moving to another state. The estate and tax laws can vary greatly from state to state. What may have been appropriate language in your documents in the state where your plan was created may not be appropriate in the state where you live now. Some states have an estate or inheritance tax, while others do not. Some states, including Ohio, allow you to establish transfer on death beneficiaries on the title to real estate, while others do not.Many states have specific, approved forms for durable financial powers of attorney and advance health care directives. If your forms are from another state or outdated, there can be delays or problems with the acceptance of these documents by banks or healthcare providers.There are many differences in the state laws that can affect your estate plan, so moving to a different state is always a great time to have your plan reviewed by an experienced estate planning attorney.
- Desired beneficiaries have changed. Many factors can create the need to change your beneficiaries. There may be new grandchildren that you would like to include. You may want to include or change charitable beneficiaries. You may need to delete a deceased beneficiary. It may be necessary to disinherit or reduce the share of a beneficiary for many possible reasons.
- Your assets have changed. A change in the value or types of assets you own can be an important reason to review your estate plan. If the value of your estate has increased significantly, it may be appropriate to establish a trust, to provide more control over the timing and amount of distributions to beneficiaries. Probate avoidance can become more important as your estate increases in value. If you own property in multiple states, this is also a good reason to review your plan to make sure it is still appropriate.
- Your executor or trustee is no longer appropriate. The executor and trustee of your estate are in charge of carrying out your estate plan, and should be considered carefully. Your named executor or trustee may now be deceased, or no longer capable of handling your estate. Your children may have been minors when your current plan was established, but are now adults, and could now be considered as the executor or trustee. For some, the best choice is an independent corporate executor or trustee.
- Changes in the law. The laws affecting your estate can and do change often. In recent years, the tax law has changed significantly. An estate plan established to minimize the estate taxes paid by your estate may no longer be appropriate. In some instances, complicated trusts created for tax reasons can be simplified if taxes are no longer a concern.
Rob Bolin is an Oxford, Ohio estate planning attorney and Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law by the Ohio State Bar Association. He welcomes inquiries from new clients.