Whether you are looking to create an estate plan for the first time or want to update an existing plan, Spring is an ideal time to meet with an estate planning lawyer to address your current legal needs and protect your legacy for the future. In this article, we have listed a few important areas of your estate plan to review and update as necessary this Spring.
Ensuring that a Designated Beneficiary’s Inheritance is Protected
It is important to make sure that a designated beneficiary’s inheritance is protected in the event that he or she gets married, divorced, becomes incapacitated or develops an addiction. If one of your beneficiaries has recently had a life-changing event, it is important to consider whether a method of safeguarding a beneficiary’s inheritance is necessary so that it will remain his or her sole property and that the inheritance remains intact.
Updating Designated Beneficiaries to Reflect Life Changes
It is imperative that you consider updating beneficiary designations in all parts of your estate plan, which include a Last Will and Testament, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts, among others. The failure to do so may result in an unintended beneficiary. Many individuals unintentionally fail to update the intended beneficiary on filed documents to reflect life changes, such as divorce, death, or the birth of children or grandchildren.
Estate Tax Planning
With the Federal Estate Tax increase to $11.18 million and New Jersey currently having no Estate Tax, it is advisable under current law to ensure that you are not over planning for estate tax purposes. However, it is important to be aware of major changes in the law relating to estate taxes on both the Federal and State levels, as tax thresholds can change based on the policies of new political administrations.
Updating Advanced Directives
Advanced directives are documents that assist in the event that a person loses the capacity to make important decisions on their own behalf. These documents allow a designated agent to act on someone else’s behalf in order to make medical or financial decisions. There are different types of advanced directives, such as a health care proxy, living will, and a power of attorney. It is important to update these documents to reflect life changes in order to avoid having an unintended agent act on your behalf.
Funding A Trust – Medicaid Planning
An asset is owned by a trust once it is transferred into the trust that was created, which is known as funding. For Medicaid purposes, the five-year look-back period begins one month after an asset is placed in the trust. This means that every time a new asset is placed in the trust, a new five-year look back period will begin only for that specific asset, not for all the assets in the trust. It is imperative that a trust is funded in a timely and correct manner in order to overcome the five-year look-back period. This will ensure that an individual becomes or remains eligible for Medicaid benefits.
The New Jersey lawyers at Hunziker, Jones, & Sweeney, P.A. are trusted by their clients to handle estate planning matters with diligence and compassion. Whether you are looking to update an existing estate plan or create one for the first time, our New Jersey estate planning lawyers can guide you through the process. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New Jersey estate planning lawyers, call (973) 256-0456.