After everything we’ve been through this past year, we know the value of preparing for the future. None of us can predict what 2021 will hold, but we can ready ourselves by planning ahead.

Prepare for the Future: You Must Have an Estate Plan

Your estate plan is a huge piece of preparing to face whatever is to come. It is one of the best things you can put in place to gain confidence about the future.

If you do not currently have an estate plan, schedule your free consultation with us. We’d love to sit down and talk with you about how you can secure your assets and care for your relationships moving forward.

Five Estate Planning “To-dos” for 2021

If you do have an estate plan, think of it as a work in progress. You may have the appropriate legal documents in place right now, but you will need to review and update those documents as your life changes.

Here are five important ways you should update your estate plan in 2021:

ONE: Understand the new tax law changes and plan accordingly.

Estate taxes, income taxes, and capital gains taxes are projected to change soon. Each of these has the potential to affect your estate. Start by familiarizing yourself with these tax law changes. Then, talk to an estate attorney and determine if you need to update your estate plan for better tax savings.

Read more about these tax changes and how they could affect your estate here:

How 2021 Tax Law Changes May Affect Your Estate

TWO: Double check that your trust records and beneficiary designations are up to date.

People often create legal documents for their estate plan, but then they forget to update other records so that their estate plan will work the way they want it to.

For example, if you have a trust, you need to regularly verify that you have titled all your assets in the trust’s name. If you miss retitling some of your assets, your trust will not be effective should you pass. We find that people frequently forget to do this when they acquire new assets. It won’t take you long. Simply make a list of your assets and double-check that you have titled each of them in the trust’s name.

Beneficiary designations are also easy to forget to update, so review them this year! Make a point to check each of your financial accounts and insurance policies to verify that the beneficiaries you’ve named are consistent with your estate plan.

THREE: Create or update your estate guide and inventory.

Create or update your estate guide and inventory to keep your assets organized and accessible to your loved ones in the future.

An estate guide and inventory is a list of the practical details that someone will need to know to wrap up your life. It can include a wide range of information, covering anything from where your assets are at to how to take care of your pets.

Your estate guide and inventory is key to making things easier for your loved ones in the future. If you don’t have one, you should create one and add it to your estate plan this year. If you do have one, take time to review and update it at least once in 2021.

FOUR: Write your ethical will.

Your ethical will is more important than any legal document. An ethical will is a written or recorded statement of your values, your beliefs, and your advice or encouragement to others. This personal record is a powerful gift for your loved ones, and we encourage you to add it to your estate plan in 2021.

To learn more about ethical wills read our article:

Your Ethical Will: The Most Important Part of Any Estate Plan

FIVE: Communicate with your personal representatives.

It is not enough to create your estate plan. You also need to talk with the people you plan to give responsibilities to in the future. They will need to know your expectations and wishes.

For example, you should go over your will with your executor or your trust with your trustee. You should also review your medical care plan with your medical agent and your finances with your financial power of attorney. If you want your funeral to look a certain way, tell those who are close to you.

If you review and update these five parts of your estate plan, you can have confidence that you have secured your assets and communicated well with the people you love as we head into 2021.

 

Need more information about any of these updates? Shoot me an email at jhummer@jehlaw.net or contact our team here. I’m happy to schedule a time to answer any questions you may have at no charge.

 

Joshua E. Hummer, Esq. is a licensed attorney who has been admitted in both Virginia and West Virginia. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and has been practicing for over 15 years. While experienced in many parts of the law, Josh specializes in estate planning, estate administration, and elder law.

 

 

Free Downloadable: 2021 Tax Changes That May Affect Your Estate

 
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