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Is It Time For An Estate Planning Checkup?

Even the most detailed and carefully crafted estate plan should be revisited periodically to make sure that it is in line with changing laws and life circumstances.

* Be sure that estate assets are held in such a way as to minimize estate taxes at death and to avoid overfunding or underfunding of post-death trusts;

* Review the powers of attorney for health care and property to confirm that they reflect current wishes;

* Make adjustments to reflect the death or disability of a beneficiary, or a significant change in a beneficiary's needs;

* Update or prepare a living trust, which allows an estate plan to be carried out with minimal court involvement;

* Retitle assets in your name as trustee of your living trust if you want to avoid probate upon disability or death;

* Review how you hold title to assets (i.e., payable on death, joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety, etc.);

* If you have not already done so, name appropriate guardians for minor children in your will;

* If you have included a marital gift or a marital trust upon the death of one spouse, consider making the provisions more or less restrictive;

* Examine the scope of "powers of appointment" that allow a survivor to redirect where assets will eventually pass;

* Confirm that the timing as to when a beneficiary will receive or have the right to demand principal is compatible with current wishes;

* Make any revisions suggested by changes in the family such as disabilities, births, deaths, or changed marital status;

* Reassess how title to your home is held;

* Consider the different options for designating beneficiaries for IRA accounts, pension plans, and other assets related to retirement;

* Possibly make annual gifts to children and others free of estate and gift taxes (up to $11,000 per person per year in 2002);

* Consider setting up separate trusts or Section 529 education funding plans for children or grandchildren.

In addition, there is a broad range of estate planning options, one or more of which may be desirable based on current circumstances. Among these devices are charitable trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, family limited partnerships, and qualified personal residence trusts. A qualified professional can help you arrive at an estate plan that keeps up with changing conditions.

© 2011 Lucas Law

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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