On September 16, 2021, Sand Hill CIO Brenda Vingiello, CFA joined the CNBC Halftime Report panel once again and discussed what positive catalysts investors canread more
Life Events that Should Trigger an Estate Plan Review
In the current political environment, all eyes are focused on what possible new estate tax changes might become law given the new administration’s campaign proposals. While any such changes will be very important and require careful review and planning, it should not be overlooked that there are other fundamental life events that should also trigger thorough discussions about the validity of one’s estate plan. In some cases, an outdated or unfinished estate plan could be much more detrimental to one’s life goals and expected protections of family and assets than any potential pending tax code changes out of Washington. Let us look at eight key life events to keep in mind when thinking about your estate plan and a reminder of why a current estate plan is so important.
Major life events—such as marriage, divorce, and death of a spouse—should be obvious triggers to reexamine one’s estate plan, but because each creates major disruption and distraction and involves extra work like updating wills, trusts, and various directives, they often get ignored or postponed for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, though, these life events can imperil the best laid plans for financial and personal health if left unattended and outdated for too long, so it is prudent to check in with an estate planning attorney while, or shortly after, any such life events take place. Other substantial life transitions—like having children (or becoming grandparents), experiencing significant changes in health, or significant changes in wealth (whether increase or decrease)—should also trigger thoughtful estate planning reviews. This helps to ensure that children and assets are protected from the potential unintended consequences of outdated goals and intentions of an existing trust; or if proper wills and trusts do not exist, to help avoid the lack of control and unnecessary time and expense associated with going through probate court. A couple of less obvious but equally important triggers to consider are the possible change of residency to a new state (or country) and changes of the heart, with respect to inheritance and philanthropic goals as well as the effect of the passage of time, all of which can often impact the validity of one’s existing plans and stated intentions.
The creation of estate plans and drafting of related documents would seem to be straightforward, but the major emotional decisions required to properly formulate such plans can become daunting, and hence, often well-intentioned delays for the purpose of clear-eyed reflection can lead to lengthy, if not indefinite, procrastination. In our view, it is usually to one’s benefit to move forward with the best plan that one can muster in the moment, since having a reliable, baseline plan in place is generally superior to a perfect yet unfinished and non-implemented plan. This all involves not only critical asset protection and potential tax optimization, but also more nuanced provisions pertaining to surviving spouse/children protection plus beneficiary, trustee, and guardianship nominees. The challenge of adequately creating or amending one’s estate plan is usually a difficult and demanding process, but the long-term benefits and peace-of-mind far outweigh the initial pain.
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