Building a comprehensive estate plan is an important achievement, but taking this single step and never revisiting the decisions you made can be a serious mistake. Life changes – this simple fact should be enough to motivate anyone to review their estate plan on a regular basis or when important events come to pass.
Some people may review their estate plan on an annual, semi-annual, or even quarterly basis. In addition to this regular check-up, some may choose to review everything when any of the following occurs:
- Death or incapacitation of anyone you named in your estate planning documents including beneficiaries or agents, trustees etc.
- Birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
- Marriage or divorce
- When a minor relative turns 18
- Purchasing real estate
- Obtaining or changing life insurance
- Receipt of an inheritance
- Opening or closing a business
- Obtaining long-term care insurance
- Retirement planning
These are just a few important events that could trigger someone to review and revise their estate plan. If you haven’t done so already, it might be a helpful exercise to sit down and create your own list of possible events that would motivate you to review your estate plan.
Is Your Estate Plan Really Protecting You & Your Loved Ones?
One of the most interesting aspects of estate planning is how practical it can really be. That said, you might not be taking full advantage of what it can do for you and your loved ones if you aren’t revisiting your decisions on a regular basis.
Most people think of estate planning in terms of planning guardianship for minor children, property transfer to surviving relatives, and end-of-life medical care. All of these issues can be laid out in a simple, but any will still needs to be probated and your estate still needs to be administered with a probate judge’s oversight.
Not only can probate be costly and time-consuming for your loved ones – who, mind you, are already trying to grieve your loss – but probate is a matter of public record. That means the details of your estate and what happened during probate proceedings can be researched by anyone who might have an interest in them.
Suffice it to say, probate isn’t the optimal choice for everyone. This is why so many choose an estate plan regime that can avoid it. In most cases, a simple trust for asset and property transfer can be enough to bypass the court. This works by funding your estate into a revocable or irrevocable trust (there are many different variations of these, each with different purposes and qualities).
Once this is done, whatever assets or property held in the trust are no longer considered your personal property, but rather that of the trust. After you pass away, your trustee or successor trustee will distribute what’s in the trust to your loved ones in accordance with your instructions.
Not only can this help your loved ones avoid probate, but an irrevocable trust can also protect certain assets property from creditors during your lifetime. The trade-off is that you lose partial control of the property in the trust to whomever is in control or a beneficiary of it. Assuming you’ve selected these parties well, however, you may not need to worry about such conflict.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
At Kitzke & Canfield LLC, we’re here to provide people like you with the experienced legal advice and services you need to update your estate plan. Should you need help reviewing or revising your plan, please reach out to us for help.
Get in touch with our firm today by calling (262) 387-0706 or by contacting us online.