Jan 31, 2024
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Updating Your Estate Plan in the New Year

Now that we are past the New Year’s resolutions involving visits to the gym and healthy food consumption, it is a good idea to make a resolution that will be easier to fulfill and arguably provide benefits that are just as important. Schedule a time to review and update your estate plan.

While it is best to review and update your entire estate plan, that process can be overwhelming, which prompts many people to put it off. Instead, focus on one manageable goal-review your trust or will. 

Legal documents are often written in old-fashioned, repetitive language because courts have ruled on the validity of this language in the past, so lawyers trust it to carry the intended meaning forward into the future. If you don’t feel comfortable reading and understanding the entire document, you can have your attorney review the document with you, or you can look for certain specific features.

Check the Beneficiaries

There will be a section of your trust or will that denotes the people who you intend to receive your property after you pass away. 

You first need to consider whether the beneficiaries listed are still the ones who should receive your assets. If your family has expanded since you created the document, then some very important people may be missing.  More and more clients are now providing for their parents in the documents, just in case.  There may also be people who you no longer wish to favor with a gift for one reason or another. 

In addition to confirming the identity of the beneficiaries, you should also update their address and any other information that may have changed. Finally, you should decide if you want to make any changes to the property you have designated to give to each of the beneficiaries.

Check the Fiduciary (personal representative or trustee)

The document should also contain provisions nominating someone to serve as your personal representative or trustee. That person will be responsible for handling your final affairs. 

Most people work with an estate administration attorney during the process, but it still can be a lot of work.  Make sure the person you’ve named as your fiduciary is still up to the task, and that you have a back-up person nominated in case your first nominee is not able to serve.

Check Provisions for Minor Children

If you have minor children, your will should nominate a guardian for them. Your will can also include a testamentary trust to manage the assets you leave to them until they are old enough to handle their own financial affairs.

So, first, you need to look and see if these provisions are included in your current will. If they are, you need to see if the people you named to serve as guardians and trustees are still the right people for those critical jobs.

Was Your Trust or Will Prepared by an Attorney in Your Current State?

If you worked with a licensed attorney in your current state of residence when you created your documents, then the documents should comply with legal requirements. If you prepared your trust or will with the help of online software or by copying a form, there is no guarantee that it is legally valid. 

In addition, if your documents were prepared in another state, it may not meet the requirements for the state you live in now. It is wise in either case to review the document with an attorney in the state where you live currently.

Blacksburg Law Can Help You Ensure That Your Plans Provide the Right Protection for Your Loved Ones

Far too often, no one realizes there’s a problem with an estate plan, or the underlying trust or will, until it is too late. You can prevent that from happening by reviewing and updating this and other critical documents on a regular basis. At Blacksburg Law, we know that your will should coordinate with other facets of your plans, and we look at the whole picture to ensure that when the time comes, everything works together to further your goals.

To learn how we can help you build and maintain the right plans for your future, schedule an appointment with our team today. Contact us online or call 415.909.3677 to get started.

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