Is Your Estate Plan Outdated?

Has it been a few years since you updated your North Carolina estate plan? If so, chances are you may need to revise your estate plan. It can be easy to forget about your estate plan while living a busy and active life, and many people dislike reviewing their estate planning documents as the task can seem daunting. Not to mention, thinking about the world moving on after one’s death is often challenging. However, putting off reviewing and updating your estate plan can have detrimental consequences.

Contact an Experienced Charlotte Estate Planning Lawyer Today

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we recommend reviewing and updating your estate plan, especially after any major life changes such as a death in the family, marriage, adoption, or divorce. Our experienced estate planning lawyers will review your estate plan and advise you about any important changes you may need to make to protect your hard-earned assets. Contact our Charlotte estate planning Law Firm, with offices in Charlotte, Mooresville, and Monroe, today to schedule your initial consultation. Below we have listed a few signs that your estate plan may be outdated and need to be revised.

You Have Moved

Moving can be incredibly complicated and it can take a significant amount of time to feel settled into your new home. In the chaos of moving, one aspect that many people forget about is updating their estate plan. Many states have different estate planning laws and regulations. When you move from one state to another state, it is important to ask an attorney who lives in your new location to review your estate planning documents. It is especially important to review your estate plan if you own property in multiple states, or if your appointed estate executor lives in a different state. When this is the case, it could be beneficial to transfer your property ownership into a revocable living trust, as this will often help you avoid a costly or potentially lengthy probate process.

You Need to Update Your Beneficiaries

If you have experienced life changes, such as divorce or remarriage, it is essential to review your beneficiary accounts. Many people will list their spouse as the beneficiary of their retirement benefits, such as their 401K accounts, IRA accounts, and annuities. It can be easy to forget to amend the designation when you have major life changes. There have been cases in which an ex-husband lists his ex-wife as the beneficiary of his account and forgets to change the account to his new wife after remarrying. Beneficiary accounts are helpful because they allow the beneficiary to receive the assets without going through the probate process. However, it is important that you update your beneficiaries when major life changes happen.

Your Plan Does Not Take Advantage of the Estate Tax Exemption

Updating your estate plan is important because estate laws change. Since 2008, Congress passed an estate tax exemption that increased the exemption amount from $2 million to $11.58 million dollars, after inflation, for individuals. If you have significant assets in your estate, you need an estate plan that takes advantage of the new estate tax exemption laws. An outdated structure can harm your estate, and this latest law is scheduled to expire in 2025. As such, you need to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer to take advantage of all of the tax exemptions you can.

You Named a Trustee You No Longer Trust

Life is complicated and sometimes relationships sour. Often individuals and couples name a close friend or family member as a trustee. However, in some cases, the couple and the trustee may have a disagreement or complication of their relationship which would prevent the trustee from performing their duties. In other cases, the trustee may become unable or unwilling to perform the duties of the role. Asking someone to become a trustee is a significant burden and individuals and couples should periodically consider who they have appointed as a trustee. If necessary, they should update their estate plan documents to appoint another trustee.

You Have Not Made Plans for Your Personal Possessions

Many people assume that creating a will solves all their estate planning dilemmas. However, it is wise to have an estate planning lawyer review your will periodically to update for new possessions you may acquire. In some cases, wills are not complete and fail to address what should happen to your personal possessions. In the wake of a loved one's death, misunderstandings between family members can occur regarding who should get a grandparents’ jewelry or prized antique furniture. The best way to prevent family discord from happening is to spell out who you would like to receive all of your personal property in your will.

Contact a Lawyer to Update Your Estate Plan

If you are concerned about whether your estate plan is up-to-date, the best time to hire an estate planning attorney is now. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.