Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Changes


Back again with more thoughts on Estate Planning after completing your divorce.  As a diligent reader of this blog, by now you should be picking up a central theme.  Changes mean you should consider revisiting, if not revising, your Estate Plan.

I am posting this week a bit later, because over this past weekend, my nephew graduated from High School, we had Father’s Day, my sister-in-law had a birthday and I had a birthday.  Momentous events for some, odometer ticking for others.  However, whenever there are any significant changes in your life, you should consider reviewing your Estate Plan.

Significant changes can include people or things.  Obviously, getting divorced, getting married, having children, all are people changes.  When family members and friends die, that could mean inheritances for you, these are people changes and thing changes.  Buy a house, sell a house, get a job, change a job, get stock options, get stock, buy stock, sell stock, get a patent, write a book, any changes to investments, buy or sell vacation properties or income properties, buy insurance, contribute to any retirement account or asset, these are the thing changes.  As you get or change the who and the what in your life, these things, may have impact or trigger the need to have an Estate Plan or revise an Estate Plan.

You might say, “OK Fred, I get it, I didn’t have anything, now I am married with children and have some stuff, I should develop an Estate Plan with my “A Team”, but if I have already done that, why would a change in my stuff mean I need a new Estate Plan?”  Fair question.  It is possible that your Estate Plan is written in a fashion that everything you have goes to your spouse and you don’t have much.  It may be that you have your simple will and everything is in both your names, and your retirement is all properly designating each other as beneficiaries.  You may not need a new Estate Plan.  But when you re-fied your house, the names on the deed were not done correctly, or when you changed jobs, the 401K was transferred to become a Rollover IRA and you forgot to re-designate your spouse or children as your beneficiaries.  Could be, your company was using Merrill Lynch to control stock options, but now uses Morgan Stanley, and forms were incomplete.  Maybe, you simply changed primary banks, and all your accounts went from the You and Me Family Trust to You and Me, and we never caught that the bank dropped the “Family Trust” from the title.  Any small change, whether in your control or not, could create an irreparable error upon your death.  We need to check Estate Plans now and with any changes.

Fate favors the ever vigilant.  I hope you review what you have and how you hold it from time to time.  After the holidays every year, you get all your year end statements, maybe time for a serious New Years Resolution?  Every tax season, you have to account for everything, make that the time you also review matter with your a Team.  Maybe just pick some date for your random, but annual review.

In the bogs that follow, I will begin to address in greater detail each of the major components of an Estate Plan, starting with Wills.  However, if you are interested in learning more about an Estate Plan, Wills, Trusts, Advanced Healthcare Directives, or Divorce, Custody, Visitation, Child Support, Spousal Support, Property Division, Modifications, Remarriage, or Pre-Nuptial Agreements, please contact me at http://www.fcbegun.com/, fbegun@gmail.com or at http://www.linkedin.com for Fred Begun.