1. The More Things Change… The More Your Estate Plan Goes Out of Date

    Tax laws change. Financial objectives evolve. People move in and out of your life. Are your estate planning documents keeping up? 

    As you consider an answer, also consider these recent must-read estate planning documents, from lawyers and law firms on JD Supra:

    Understanding the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C.):

    “The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was signed into law on January 2, 2013. The Act permanently extends many of the Bush-era tax cuts, while increasing tax rates for higher income taxpayers.” Read on» 

    Estate Planning After the American Taxpayer Relief Act (Poyner Spruill LLP):

    “Clients will initially need to review their current documents to determine whether any changes are warranted as a result of the Act. However, frequent reviews every year or two each time Congress has made substantial changes in the law will no longer have to be made.” Read on»

    What happens to your digital assets after you die? (Janet Brewer):

    “In this day and age, however, there is a new category of assets to consider: digital assets. Internet users should be considering what will happen to their digital assets, including social media accounts, email accounts, online document storage, and other resources, after they die.” Read on»

    Social Media and Other Digital “Assets” After Death (Davis Brown Law Firm):

    “A few weeks ago, legislation was proposed in Nebraska that would allow a personal representative of a dead person to control his or her social media, including emails, blogs, and sites such as Facebook or Twitter.” Read on»

    What Does The Spouse Live Off Of When The Other Is In A Nursing Home? (Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard, P.C.):

    “So Dad is in nursing home, and has qualified for Medicaid to supplement the cost of care.  What does Mom live off of? First, while assets are pooled together for Dad to have qualified for Medicaid in the first place, income is not pooled.  So, Mom gets to keep her own income.” Read on»

    Rumors about the Death of “No Contest” Clauses May Be Premature; Recent Case Offers Hope (Carr, McClellan, Ingersoll, Thompson & Horn - Professional Law Corporation):

    “Ever since January 1, 2010, when California overhauled the rules governing the enforceability of “no contest” clauses – provisions in testamentary instruments that say anyone who challenges the instrument will be disinherited – most practitioners have come to view these clauses as toothless.  A recent case offers hope for the continued strength of the traditional enforceability of the no contest clause.” Read on»

    Termination of Credit Shelter Trusts (Poyner Spruill LLP):

    “…due to higher estate tax exemption, certain trusts previously established for purposes of avoiding estate taxes under the estate plan of a predeceased spouse may no longer be necessary in light of the new federal estate tax law.” Read on»

    Estate Planning Considerations: Documentation and Peace of Mind (Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC):

    “…every person should have the following “bare minimum” estate planning documents: A Will that is valid under state law and reflects your current wishes and family structure. Keep the original Will in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box and make sure your loved ones know the location of the original, as a court will accept only the original Will for probate (with possible exceptions in very unusual circumstances).” Read on»

    The Estate Tax Consequences of the Defense of Marriage Act for Same-Sex Couples (Niles, Barton & Wilmer, LLP):

    “Unfortunately, the federal estate tax treatment of estates passing from one Maryland same-sex spouse to another remains in doubt. The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for purposes of federal benefits and application of federal law. Therefore, regardless of how Maryland or any other state defines marriage, the federal government only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman.” Read on»

    Separated But Not Divorced: Don’t Wait To Update Your Estate Plan (Bean, Kinney & Korman, PC):

    “Many people have the misconception that they cannot update their estate plan or even prepare a new Will if they are separated but not yet divorced from their spouse.  This is not true.  An estate plan can be updated at any time so long as the person has mental capacity and is over the age of 18. The fact that someone is separated from their spouse does not bar them from changing their estate plan, but there are points that must be taken into consideration.” Read on»

    15 Life Changes That Signal When Your Estate Plan Should Be Reviewed (Sabrina Winters, Attorney at Law, PLLC):

    “Life is constantly changing for all of us. Between marriages, divorces, new babies, new jobs and new homes, it is hard to keep up with it all at times. When a big life event happens you want to make certain that all your Estate Planning documents are reviewed.” Read on»

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