1. Is Your Estate Plan in Order? These Updates Should Help


    Why do you need an estate plan? Many reasons, for sure, but one sticks out: estate planning gives you an opportunity to say how you want your estate – investments, insurance policies, personal property, retirement plans, and more – to be handled once you’re gone. 

    Even if you already have a plan, however, it likely needs an update: laws, families, even your wishes change over time. 

    So whether you’re just getting started or revising your plan for the umpteenth time, these recent updates will help:

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

    “In addition to the ‘bare minimum’ estate planning documents … and other instruments (such as a Revocable Trust) your attorney may draft for you, be aware that your estate plan also includes documents your attorney did not necessarily draft, such as the beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement accounts.” Read on»

    Unfortunate Reminder of the Need for Powers of Attorney (Davis Brown Law Firm): 

    “When most people think of estate planning, they think of drafting a will or trust to say what happens to property after death. Arguably more important is what happens when you are alive but unable to make decisions following an unforeseen and unfortunate event.” Read on»

    To Will or Not to Will (Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates):

    “You have a will in place. You think that you have fully protected your family when you die. You may be surprised to discover exactly how many things wills can’t do. While wills are useful and inexpensive legal documents for many people seeking a quick and easy way to do their estate planning, they are often ineffective in many respects.” Read on»

    Are Your Children Prepared to Handle Your Wealth? in The Estate Planner (Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP):

    “Stories of ‘trust fund babies’ who’ve squandered the wealth their parents carefully set aside for them to ensure their financial well being are all too common. If you’ve built up a large estate and are eager to share your wealth with your children, you may be concerned about their ability to handle it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help ensure they won’t blow through their inheritance at a young age.” 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»

    Make a New Year’s Resolution to Review Your Estate Plan in 2013 (Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP):

    “Your estate plan takes into account the size and nature of your assets at the time you executed it. Have your assets changed significantly, such as conversion of real estate or a business interest, or through inheritance of additional assets? If so, you may wish to review your estate plan to make sure these changes have been taken into consideration.” Read on»

    Estate Planning After The American Taxpayer Relief Act Of 2012 (Leonard, Street and Deinard)

    “The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) was signed into law on January 2, 2013, ending twelve years of uncertainty concerning the federal estate, gift and generation-skipping tax rates and exemptions. With the passage of ATRA, the estate, gift and generation-skipping tax exemption amounts remain fixed at $5 million per person (indexed annually for inflation to a 2013 amount of $5.25 million per person).” Read on»

    Estate Planning Implications of American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP) 

    “The Act made ‘portability’ of a deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exemption amount permanent.  Thus, if a proper portability election is made at the death of the deceased spouse, the surviving spouse may use the deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exemption for gift tax purposes and the surviving spouse’s personal representative may use it for estate tax purposes.” Read on»

    2013 Estate Planning Update (McCarter & English, LLP):

    “As 2012 drew to a close, your estate planning attorney’s attention was diverted from the ball drop in Times Square to whether Congress would drop the ball with respect to the fiscal cliff.  Congress, however, passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which became law on January 2, 2013… So was it worth the scramble to make gifts in 2012 now that the higher exemptions have been made permanent? Absolutely. It always makes sense to make gifts during one’s lifetime (assuming one can afford to make the gifts).” Read on»

    Is There Life After Death for Your Digital Assets? (Field Law):

    “Do you have digital (electronic) assets? Do you have electronic property that has value? ‘Value’ is a subjective question. It may mean monetary value (such as a vast digital music library, or a four-digit PayPal seller account)… Electronic accounts that contain information of a personal or sensitive nature may also be ‘valuable’ to the extent that it is vital to you to either prohibit or restrict access to such information on your death.” Read on»

    Non-Tax Reasons For Creating An Estate Plan (Varnum LLP)

    “The non-tax reasons for creating an estate plan … are often more important than the tax reasons for creating an estate plan. It is time to get ‘back to the basics’ with estate planning!” Read on»

    Transferring home ownership to your children (Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.):

    “If you’re considering giving your home to your children, talk to your estate planning advisor first to make sure you do it the best way for your situation. Many people mistakenly believe they can transfer their home to their children while retaining the right to continue living in it for the rest of their life, and remove a substantial portion of the home’s value from their taxable estate. It’s a simple, inexpensive way — they reason — to avoid probate and reduce estate taxes.” Read on»

    U.S. Estate Planning For Expatriates (Charles ‘Chuck’ Rubin)

    “Code §2801 imposes U.S. transfer taxes on transfers by former U.S. persons who have expatriated if the transfer is to a U.S. person. This tax is imposed on the U.S. recipient. A recent article … points out several planning considerations for such expatriates if they have U.S. persons who will be recipients of gifts or testamentary transfers.” Read on»

    Estate Planning Pitfall: You’ve named a minor as beneficiary of your life insurance policy or retirement plan (Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.):

    A common estate planning mistake is to designate a minor as beneficiary — or contingent beneficiary — of a life insurance policy or retirement plan. Insurance companies and financial institutions won’t pay large sums of money directly to a minor. Instead, they’ll require costly court proceedings to appoint a guardian to manage the child’s inheritance. And there’s no guarantee the guardian will be the person you’d choose.” Read on»

    Should you donate life insurance to charity? (Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.)

    “For the philanthropic minded, donating a life insurance policy to a favorite charity should rank high on their list of possible giving strategies. Why? Because doing so is an excellent opportunity to make a larger donation than may otherwise be affordable. However, donating life insurance isn’t right for everyone.” Read on»


    Find additional Estate Planning updates at JD Supra Law News»


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