Updating Your Estate Plan

The following transcript is from Michelle Lerman's January 2005 live radio broadcast of "Lerman on the Law" on AM 610 KFRC

Updating Your Estate Plan

Since we just celebrated the New Year, I want to give the listeners a simple checklist of what they need to do regarding their estate planning. New Years - we think of New Year's resolutions. Add estate planning to your New Year's resolution list. If you don't have a trust or will, get one. Here's your checklist for reviewing your current estate plan, assuming you already have one:

  1. Is my plan updated for HIPPA? Must sign a medical authorization for your plan to work properly.
  2. Who is the beneficiary of my insurance? Consider naming the living trust instead of a spouse or children. Plus, consider whether an irrevocable trust should hold the insurance.
  3. Are all my assets in the trust? If you've formed a new entity to hold real estate, you'll need to confirm that the entity is in your trust. If you have refinanced your home, make sure it got put back in the living trust.
  4. Does our living trust still make sense now that the exclusion amount is up to $1,500,000? Not that many years ago the exclusion amount was $650K. That means that you might need a different type of living trust than what you needed a few years ago.
  5. Does you plan deal with a possible repeal of estate taxes? Most plans don't. Remember that the scheduled repeal is only five years away. Your trust instrument has to have some provision about what is to happen if estate taxes are repealed.

NOT REVIEWING YOUR TRUST IS ALMOST AS BAD AS NOT HAVING A TRUST AT ALL. SO NOW YOU HAVE ONE MORE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION TO ADD TO YOUR LIST.

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