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Articles: Get a quick estate plan check-up

It is taking years for Congress to resolve the uncertainty over estate taxes. (The latest federal estate-tax law revision will expire after 2012.)  But you can move faster.

Take five minutes out of your busy day for the quick review below.  The answers to these questions should help point you in the right direction.

➡ Have you recently married, divorced or separated?  If so, you may want to update your estate plan to include a new spouse or limit the assets available to your ex-spouse.

➡ Does your plan cover all your children?  As a general rule, you should amend your plan if there is a new addition to the family.   Whenever it is appropriate, don’t forget to address the issue of adopted children.

➡ Do you also want to include grandchildren as beneficiaries?  Make sure the list is completely up-to-date.

➡ Are you moving or have you moved?  State law can have a significant impact on your estate plan.   For example, a trust that is valid in one state may be void in a neighboring
one.

➡  Has  your  financial  worth  increased  or  decreased? Maybe you own shares of a certain stock that have gone up dramatically or a piece of real estate that has appreciated
faster than you expected. If so, your good fortune should be factored into the division of assets among your beneficiaries.  Also, take recent reversals of fortune into account.

➡ Are you covering all of your family’s needs?   It’s not enough to anticipate your family’s future well-being.  You should also take care of those expenses that need to be
paid while the estate is being settled.

➡ Have you chosen the executor of your estate?   If you have not made this fundamental decision, don’t put it off any longer.

➡ Is the person you named as your executor still able and willing to administer your estate?  If not, you may need to name a replacement.  Or you may want to change your executor for a variety of other reasons (e.g., the person has moved out of state).

➡ Does your estate plan take recent tax law changes into account?  Don’t forget about any changes in state law as well as federal law.   Note:   Certain states have enacted
changes linked to the federal estate-tax law, while others have not.

➡ Have you bought or sold a business?  The repercussions should be reflected in your estate plan.

➡ Do you need a power of attorney?  This document can authorize an attorney-in-fact to act on your behalf if you become unable to handle your financial affairs.

➡ Will your family be able to locate your will when you die? If not, spell out the location in a letter of instructions.  The letter may include other details of your estate plan (but it is
not legally binding).

➡ Have you met with your attorney recently?  If you schedule a meeting, be sure to bring along your key financial documents, including at least three years’ worth of income tax
returns and a list of all your sizeable assets.

At the very least, have your estate plan reviewed every few years - even sooner if there have been major changes in your personal circumstances.


This newsletter/advertisement is produced for our clients, friends and associates through an arrangement with WPI Communications, Inc. for the representatives’ use. Although the editorial content is professionally researched, written and edited, neither our firm nor any of its agents, representatives or associates make any representations regarding the accuracy of the content or its applicability to your situation. The information in this communication is not intended as tax or legal advice. In accordance with IRS Circular 230, the information provided herein may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Any tax advice contained in the body of this material was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of 1) avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions, or 2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent advisor.

 

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