The Importance of an Estate Planning Checkup

Attorney Image By: James Filippi

After arranging your revocable trust and other estate planning documents with an attorney, it is easy to assume that you have checked estate planning off of your list forever. The reality is not so simple. Not only do tax laws frequently change, but so does your life. The smallest change could have a big impact on your estate planning. You therefore need to revisit your estate plan each year to ensure your plan still accurately reflects your values, needs, and hopes for your legacy.

To make sure you retain control of your accounts and property if you are unable to manage your own affairs and after you have passed away, plan an annual checkup of your estate plan with our firm. Even if you have already created a plan you feel confident about, circumstances surrounding your decisions may change. Marriages end, children grow up, and serious illnesses occur. When laws change, some estate planning techniques can become outdated. Pick a date, be it your birthday, the beginning of the year, or tax season, to review your estate plan with your attorney annually. For those that have established their revocable living trust or last will with our firm, we reach out automatically every year on the anniversary of you signing your estate plan documents.

A look into how your accounts and property are titled can reveal the need for potential changes. Joint ownership, for example, can become messy in the wake of a divorce. Births or deaths of loved ones may lead you to change your beneficiaries. The person you named as one of your trusted decision-makers (e.g., successor trustee, personal representative or executor, agent under a durable power of attorney, or agent under an advanced health care directive) may no longer be the best option due to relationship changes or physical relocation. Such changes can occur at any moment, so it is worth a yearly checkup to ensure your wishes are reflected in your estate plans.

Significant financial change can also be a good reason for a checkup. If you have paid off debt, taken on a new job, bought a house, or made new investments, you will want your estate plans to reflect these changes. If you have a revocable living trust, the only way to ensure your accounts and property are kept out of probate is to have all of your accounts and property appropriately funded into the trust. Funding the trust involves changing the owner of an account or piece of property from you as an individual to you as the trustee of the trust. In some cases, we may have discussed designating your trust as the beneficiary of an account instead of changing the owner. If you have any questions about what should be funded into your trust, please give us a call.

Also, in light of the SECURE Act and the elimination of the lifetime stretch for non-spouse beneficiaries, it is important that we discuss any retirement accounts you may own prior to changing the beneficiary designation.

Life is ever changing. What may seem like a small change can impact your estate plan greatly. If you or your family have undergone any changes since your estate planning documents were originally created, now is the perfect time to reach out to us for an estate plan review. If you have not yet set up your estate plan, now is the time to do so.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Do not fail your loved ones or yourself—contact us today. We are available for in-person, phone, and virtual appointments.

Satisfied Client Stories

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Anyone in need of a great law firm that does Living Trust/ Wills I highly recommend Filippi Law Firm in Rocklin.
My husband and I needed to have a new Trust done and we were very pleased with

Suzan Henshillwood
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I highly recommend Filippi law firm. Can’t say enough how much I appreciate all they did for me and my living trust. Jim is very helpful and relieved any doubts I had about trust. Very nice law firm and friendly. Thank you Jim for everything and Courtney as well.

Suzan Perfetto
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Very Professional service provided. Handled my trust with professional care and left us feeling very confident. Would recommend Filippi Law Firm to all my friends

Bret Rapozo
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Jim is a personable individual and all the people in the firm are friendly and professional. Creating my trust was painless and has taken a load off my mind.

Jil Voorhies
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We had an outstanding experience with all the Filippi associates we worked with. They were exceptionally professional and friendly. I would highly recommend their services.

John Wendt
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The Filippi Law Firm is very family oriented, professional in every way and quickly responded to any questions my family had. Their end product left nothing to be desired as it was an extremely well thought of and produced legal document. I highly recommend the firm to perform in any capacity of estate planning or administrative law.

Geraldine Dolan

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