For many people, the new year is a time to set goals for the year ahead - a list of to-dos. Consider adding estate planning to your list, as a priority item.
When To Update Your Estate Plan
A lot can happen in a year. If you have an existing estate plan, now is a great time to review your documents and determine whether any changes are needed. The following indicate life events that may require updates to your estate plan:
- Did you get married or divorced, or remarried, since your last update?
- Were you, your spouse or one of your children diagnosed with an illness or disability?
- Have you moved across state lines recently?
- Was a child or grandchild born since your last update?
- Did a loved one pass away?
- Did you experience a significant change in finances, such as retirement or receipt of an inheritance or other windfall?
- Did you purchase or sell a major asset, like a house?
- Did one of your children turn 18 years old since your last update?
Your estate plan should accurately reflect the particulars of your life: your finances, your assets and your family relationships. If there have been any changes in these areas of your life, an update may be warranted.
Attention: Maryland's estate tax laws changed on January 1, 2016. The changes in law may impact your existing estate plan. Read more about the new law.
Reasons To Create An Estate Plan
If you don't have an estate plan, now is a great time to put one in place. Estate planning offers many benefits. It not only allows you to do things such as designating who gets what after you pass away, it lets you fix some certainty to an uncertain future. Through a few strategic estate planning tools you can do what's necessary to preserve your hard-earned assets for the next generation and transfer wealth in a tax-efficient manner. If you have minor children, an estate plan will help you determine who their guardian will be, and how their inheritance will be managed, in the event of your death.
Reviewing your estate plan, or creating a new estate plan, may not sound like the most exciting way to start the year. However, creating, or updating, these documents will make sure your affairs are in order no matter what the new year holds.