Many people assume that Estate Planning is not applicable to their situation, believing that only very wealthy, older, or ill individuals need to maintain an up-to-date Estate Plan. However, every adult should have an Estate Plan, regardless of the size of their estate or how healthy they are. Life is unpredictable and an estate plan alleviates many burdens placed on loved ones after a death, unexpected or not. For parents of minor children, it is especially important to have a Will in the unlikely event that something unexpectedly happens to both parents.
Kirker | Davis LLP offers a comprehensive Estate Planning package for a flat-rate rate fee. This package is comprised of the following eight (8) documents, which are intended to offer protection to individuals and their estates as well as safeguard their wishes:
Many people with estate plans do not realize that those plans should be revisited upon major life events, including but not limited to: (1) a marriage or remarriage; (2) the birth of a child; (3) a change in the nature of your estate; (4) the death of a beneficiary; (5) a divorce or separation; (6) an interstate move; or (7) a change in goals regarding how the estate is to be distributed.
A more thorough discussion of some of these life events is as follows:
Many people go through financial phases throughout life, and the value of your estate can increase or decrease substantially for many reasons. Every time your estate value changes, consider whether you want to update your distribution instructions in light of the circumstances. For instance, if you experience a windfall, you might want to include beneficiaries in your estate plan who otherwise might not be included, since there is more to share now. If your estate decreases, you might want to update your plan to focus on the beneficiaries closest to you.
You should also update your plan if you sell a major asset, such as a home or business, that was a primary part of your estate. The same goes if you acquire a business or real estate that is now part of the estate. Significant changes in the composition of your estate also warrant a review of your plan.
Every state has the ability to make its own laws regarding estate planning requirements. While it might not seem like small differences in the law will have a major impact on your estate plan, moving to a new state can affect the effectiveness of many estate planning documents, and unexpected complications might arise.
For example, your new state might have requirements for a power of attorney that did not apply in the first state. This could render your existing power of attorney document unenforceable. Other documents that might be affected include an advanced medical directive, your last will and testament, living will, and more.
There also might be additional laws that affect an automatic inheritance by a spouse or the disinheritance of a former spouse. There might be different child guardianship standards, estate tax liability, gift tax rules, and more. If you move to Texas, it is important to have an experienced estate planning attorney who understands how to update your estate plan in line with Texas law.
Major life events are not the only reason that people should review their estate plans. Over time, goals can slowly and subtly shift, and it is critical to schedule periodic reviews with your estate planning attorney to ensure that your plan continues to reflect your desires and affords appropriate protections.
Not only do family changes mean that you might need to update the beneficiaries of your estate plan, but they also might mean changing your executor, trustee, or POA. These are all critical designations, and you want to ensure your documents are updated so the right individuals are named for specific roles.
If you are interested in an Estate Plan, but do not want it to include all these documents, Kirker Davis can customize a package to serve your needs for a flat-rate fee. Contact our office for more information.