As you can imagine, we get asked a lot of questions throughout the year about whether or not someone should be making changes to their Estate Strategy or other legal issues…lots of questions. One way to help you figure out if you actually need to do something with your Estate Strategy or Business Law issues is to answer some key questions that usually trigger the need to reexamine where you are today.
While there are many questions, here are 15 to get you thinking in the right direction and to help you see if there is a need to revisit where you are today as compared to where you were when you developed your Legal Strategy. If you can answer YES to any of these, it is highly advisable to do a quick review and make sure you are covered in the way you want to be covered.
Here are some questions for you to ponder and consider that might trigger a need for some modifications to your Strategy…
- Have you relocated or moved…a key question and one that is often overlooked when you move to a new address. If you have moved to another state, there are almost certainly different laws in the new state that should be updated in your Strategy. There are other implications when you move as well that should also be discussed and considered.
- Did you acquire additional real estate…whether in your current state or in another state, this is almost always an issue that needs to be updated and addressed in your Strategy. Additional real estate can impact your planning as well as your tax situation so there are usually multiple issues that should be addressed.
- Have there been any changes in tax laws…depending on your state of residence (or country) there most likely have been changes in the local or national tax laws. If so, this almost always has an impact on your Strategy and should be addressed to ensure your wishes can still be met.
- Has your family changed…if there are any changes to your family, either additions or the passing of some members, this could significantly affect how you want your wishes to be carried out. It is very important to address any family changes immediately so that your loved ones are taken care of the way you want.
- Is there a need to change the person handling your Estate…often times there is a reason to change the person who will handle the execution of your estate. It could be that they are no longer capable, may have moved, have their own challenges, and other reasons. If this is the case, there is a need to immediately address this issue.
- Is there a need to change the person handling your Medical decisions…there may be a situation where the person who would handle your medical issues needs to be changed. It could be for a variety of reasons but there is a desire to change this person or the hierarchy of people listed. This is a change that should be handled immediately to ensure that you have the proper medical care you desire.
- Have other relationships changed during the year…where relationships are involved, things happen and emotions may lead to a change in how you want to treat the people you have identified previously in your Estate Strategy. If there have been any changes in these relationships, then you should address this immediately so your wishes are being met with your Strategy.
- Have the needs of your loved ones changed…as your loved ones grow through life their needs change. As these change, it may mean you want to change the way you help them out after you are gone. Some may need more attention and others less that may cause you to rethink how you want to distribute your estate.
- Has the situation of your loved ones changed…as your loved ones grow and they engage in different relationships, these will also change over time. If you have loved ones that may be in a difficult relationship there may be a need to address how they are participating in your estate so they are protected and their portion of their estate is not at risk. These issues should be addressed and changes put in place to help protect your loved ones.
- Have there been any changes in your financial situation…if your financial situation has changed in any way this will most likely be a sign for you to make modifications to your Estate Strategy. Financial areas are some of the most critical to address with a high sense of urgency as it will indicate how your wishes are carried out.
- Have you already been giving assets away…with the increases in the amounts that can be gifted, more people are giving money and possessions to their family and friends. If this is the case, these should be taken into consideration for the future of your Estate Strategy.
- Have you been giving more away to charity…often times as people age they want to give more of their assets to charity. If this is happening, it can affect the overall Estate Strategy and should be addressed and a plan put in place for this change going forward.
- Have you had any additional physical or mental issues…as people age, there are additional medical issues that arise. Some of these are physical and others may be impacting the mental acuity of a person. If any of these are present, it is a great time to ensure that you have the proper plans in place in your Estate Strategy to carry out your desired wishes.
- Do you have “minor” children in your Estate Strategy…there is a different way you might want to treat those that are minors in your Strategy. If there are minors you may not want them to have access to their portion of your estate until a certain age. These types of considerations change frequently and should be changed as they occur.
- Have there been any changes in your business…as we know, your business changes quite frequently whether it is the financial condition, ownership, new opportunities, or other activities. As these occur, they can impact your Estate Strategy significantly on both a personal and business level. These should be addressed immediately to make sure your business goals and direction are in alignment with your personal objectives at all times.
While there are certainly other questions to consider, this should get you thinking and started down the path of ensuring your Estate Strategy is up to date to meet the changes in your life. Reviewing this on a regular basis helps answer many of these questions so your wishes and desires are met the way you want them to be met. If you have any questions about any of these items, please let us know and we would be happy to give you guidance as to what changes, if any, you many need to make.