It’s Already the Last Day of the First Month of the New Year. Have You Reviewed Your Estate Planning Documents Yet?

Filed Under (Wills and Estates) on 01-31-2013

Estate Planning Attorney, Family Advisor, Moye White Top Reasons to Review Your Colorado Estate Planning Documents

By Marilyn W. McWilliams, Attorney

So, you have all of your estate planning documents completed and in a safe place and you have peace of mind. Good for you!  How long has it been since you reviewed them?  While it’s true that these documents don’t have an expiration date, a lot of things can happen that may affect the validity of your important estate planning documents. Here is a list of possible life changes that might require you to update such documents as a Will, Power of Attorney, Living Will, or a Designated Beneficiary Agreement.

1.    Marriage.

2.    Divorce.

3.    Death of a spouse.

4.    Birth, adoption or death of children.

5.    Significant increase or decrease in your net worth.

6.    Serious illness or upcoming surgery.

7.    Change in Federal or state estate or inheritance tax laws.

8.    Change in state laws governing health care proxies and other health care documents (living wills).

9.    Move to a different state.

10.    Change in citizenship status.

11.    Having a will or trust which contains a marital deduction estate tax formula governed by the federal tax credit (which has significantly changed in the past few years).

12.    Your health care documents were created before 2004 when HIPAA (the Federal health privacy act) became effective.

13.    You have a durable general power of attorney that, in the subjective view of your financial institution, is “too old.”

Everyone’s situation is personal to them.  The federal estate and gift tax law changes over the past few years have been significant and can result in distributions of an estate which are quite different than your intent might have been.  It would be prudent to have any will or trust created before 2011 at least briefly reviewed so you understand the effect of the tax clauses.

The other frequent problem families encounter is either not having a current durable medical power of attorney at all or having one that was prepared prior to 2004 and does not give permission to medical personnel to share medical information with your designated agent or family members.