Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Tips for updating an estate plan

Once people in Utah have created an estate plan, they still need to review it periodically to make sure that it is up to date. For example, the estate tax exemption has been going up over the years, so people who created an estate plan designed to avoid paying estate tax might want to check and see whether those measures are still necessary.

Another important check is making sure that the estate plan includes all the necessary documents. In addition to a will, a person may want to consider having paperwork in place to appoint people to make medical and financial decisions in the event that they become incapacitated. Wills should also include instructions on how personal effects should be divided. These types of items can sometimes cause more conflict than items that have more monetary value.

Finally, an estate plan should be reviewed after any major life changes. It might be necessary to change beneficiary designations or to choose a different executor. Life insurance policies should be reviewed as well to make sure they have not lapsed. A person who has named a close friend or family member might want to reconsider. Acting as a trustee can be a significant responsibility, and it might be better to appoint a professional. Moving to another state is another good reason to change an estate plan.

As part of an estate plan review, a person might want to consider whether new tools should be used. For example, a person who does not have a trust might want to talk to an attorney about whether it could be useful. Trusts can have a number of uses such as protecting assets from creditors, helping to manage an inheritance for a beneficiary who might be irresponsible with money or keeping an estate plan more private by avoiding probate.

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