By Justin Curtiss, JD, CFP®
Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?
Often, people wonder whether or not the Will they signed many years ago is still valid or if they need a new one. Generally speaking, it usually is still valid, but it may not accurately represent your wishes. Below is a checklist of common events that necessitate the need for a new Will and/or an updated estate plan. Review the following checklist to see how changes in your life may call for an updated estate plan:
Do you now have grandchildren you wish to include in your estate planning?
Have your children’s circumstances changed (e.g. Are you concerned about them receiving an inheritance and having it impacted by a divorce, creditors, etc.)?
Are there new people in your life that should be named in your will (e.g. birth, adoption)?
Are you planning on getting married and need a prenuptial agreement?
Have you gotten married since you signed your old will? (This is an exceptionally important time to sign a new will since the new marriage impacts the old will.)
Have you filed a state registered domestic partnership?
Have you moved to a new state?
Has someone you named as a beneficiary in your will passed away or become disabled?
Do you have a new charity you would like to remember?
Is your personal representative, attorney-in-fact for finances, attorney-in-fact for health care, guardian, and/or trustee still the right fiduciaries for you?
Has the value of your estate substantially increased or decreased?
Have you acquired real estate outside of Washington or Oregon?
Have you reviewed how your IRA/401K beneficiary designations fit with your will/trust?
Do you need help thinking through how the beneficiary designations on your life insurance, investment accounts, and/or bank accounts fit with your will/trust?
Would a Revocable Living Trust better serve your goals?
Has there been a change in your or your spouse’s health?
Do you need to plan for incapacity?
Have you been denied long term care insurance and are you concerned about long term care costs?
Should you include authority for gifting in your durable power of attorney? Do your goals and family situation make this a good idea?
Does your health care directive clearly state your desires about the medical treatment you want if you cannot speak for yourself?
Changes in the Law
Community Property. If you are married and new to Washington, it is very important to review the new options you have in your estate planning documents now that you are in a community property state. This is true even if you have moved from another community property state since each state’s community property law are distinct.
A change in federal law – the new SECURE Act that was passed at the end of 2019 may impact your estate plan and beneficiary designations.
The estate tax law is always changing and should be periodically reviewed if your asset level puts you at risk.
Passage of Time
Although you probably do not need to have an attorney review your documents every three to five years, you yourself should read your documents periodically. Read your documents with this list in hand to see if any issues are made manifest.
This material is intended to provide general financial education and reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analysis of Sustainable Wealth Management, Inc.’s employees and is not written or intended as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied upon for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this blog post constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Sustainable Wealth Management, Inc manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investment advisory services offered through Sustainable Wealth Management, Inc. Securities offered through Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, Member FINRA/SIPC Headquartered at 80 State Street, Albany, NY 12207. Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments and Sustainable Wealth Management are not affiliated companies.