IS IT IMPORTANT TO REVIEW MY ESTATE PLAN?Yes. Once you’ve created your estate plan, it is important to review it often, as life events may require adjustments.
Regularly review beneficiary designations to account for changes in your family, such as a marriage, divorce, birth or death. Assets such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies and IRAs are usually guided by beneficiary designations — not by your will. Therefore, it is wise to review those designations annually or when your family structure changes.
The concerns are similar when it comes to the title — the identification of the owner — of assets like bank accounts. The title determines how an asset or account gets passed along. If two people own an account titled “joint tenants with right of survivorship,” for example, it will pass to the surviving joint owner. That title could create problems if it does not support the overall estate plan.
Many people use life insurance trusts to keep the policies’ proceeds outside their taxable estates. While this is a valid estate planning technique, you must ensure you have an administrator who understands trust rules and follows them. Asking a professional to annually review your trust can ensure it complies with current tax law and will continue to accomplish your objectives.
Changes in estate planning laws make it essential to periodically analyze any trusts. For example, many estate plans written years ago directed trustees to allocate enough assets to a family trust to match the exemption amount, with the remaining assets funding a marital trust. This strategy made sense when the federal estate tax exemption amount was lower.
However, because the estate tax exemption has increased significantly, this structure may mean that few or no assets pass to the marital trust that benefits the surviving spouse. Depending on the structure of the family trust, a surviving spouse could be left without assets or an income source if the trust is not updated.
TALKING TO YOUR FAMILY
One of the most difficult estate planning decisions is determining when and how to involve your family in any planning discussions. While the timing varies for every family, opening a dialogue reduces the potential for future discord when your plan is implemented.
The team of professionals at Regions Private Wealth Management can help craft an estate plan that reflects your wishes and has the flexibility needed to remain effective as circumstances change or become uncertain. A Regions Wealth Advisor can help guide you through the estate planning process, adjust as needed, and help build the legacy you envision.
For more information, visit regions.com/privatewealth.
MEET THE EXPERT
Henry Moore is a Wealth Advisor for Regions Private Wealth Management. Contact him at Henry.Moore@Regions.com.