Spring Cleaning: Is Now A Good Time to Tidy Up Your Estate Plan?

Attorney Christine S. Anderson

March 2017

As the weather turns warmer, I feel the urge to wash my car and clean out my closets. Spring may also be a good time to consider whether your estate plan should be tidied up.

Fiduciaries. Time passes and the individuals you originally named to serve as guardian of your minor children, trustee and agent under powers of attorney for financial and health care decisions may no longer be the right choice. You should periodically review who you have designated in these various roles and make sure that the individuals that you have named in your documents are still individuals who share your values and who would make decisions consistent with your goals.

Terms of distribution. When your children were in their teens, it may have seemed like they would never be ready to manage their inheritance. Now that they are in their thirties, has your opinion changed? It may be that you feel that your children would be ready to handle their inheritance sooner than the documents dictate. Alternatively, you may want more restrictive terms to protect your children's inheritance for them farther into the future. In either event, it is advisable to regularly review the terms of distribution and make sure that your documents are consistent with your current intent.

Tax law changes. The estate tax laws have changed dramatically over the past few years. There may be provisions in your trusts that are no longer needed to ensure that your estate passes to the beneficiaries in the most tax-efficient manner.

Funding. When we meet with clients to sign their estate planning documents, we routinely spend some time talking about making sure that their assets are titled in their trusts or carry beneficiary designations to avoid probate. As time goes by, you may have purchased a new home or opened one or more new accounts that are not titled in your trust or payable to designated beneficiaries. You should make a list of your assets and consider what would happen to each asset in the event of your death. Is it titled in your trust? Does it carry a beneficiary designation? Is the beneficiary still the person that you want to receive the account in the event of your death?

Have you moved? If you have moved out of New Hampshire, it is advisable to have your estate plan reviewed by an attorney licensed to practice in your new home state. Please let us know about your move and we can send your original documents either to you or to your new estate planning attorney. Alyssa is licensed to practice in Massachusetts, so we can continue to assist our New Hampshire clients who have moved to Massachusetts.

If you have questions as you consider these issues, feel free to call the office and schedule an appointment with Alyssa or me to discuss tidying up your estate plan. Enjoy the spring!