Review Your Estate Plan in 2024: Make a New Year's Resolution to Update Your Wishes

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December 26, 2023 •  The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC
Make 2024 the year you set and keep the new year's resolution to review or create your estate plan to respond to and be prepared for life's many changes. We're here to help ensure your wishes are honored no matter what life brings.
Robert W. Haley, managing lawyer
Robert W. Haley
Certified Elder Law Attorney® Robert W. Haley brings over 27 years of legal expertise and knowledge to his firm, which concentrates solely on the areas of elder law, estate planning (Last Will & Testaments, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trusts, etc.,.) Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and fiduciary services. For many years, Robert practiced in real estate law, and in general practice, but decided to narrow his focus to elder law and estate planning when he realized the tremendous need for proper planning to be filled in Southside Virginia.

Reviewing your will or estate plan is something that many Lynchburg residents know they should do but often put off. It's natural to say things like: "I'll take care of it later," or "I already completed my estate plan, so it's all set." But various life circumstances and legal changes can significantly impact your estate planning needs. Ensuring that your estate plan, including your will and other estate planning documents, reflects your current situation is essential for peace of mind and securing your beneficiaries' future. The new year is a great time to set and keep a resolution to review your estate plan or create one, explains ElderLawAnswers in a recent article, New Year’s Resolution: Get That Estate Plan Done. No one knows what the future holds, yet legally documenting your wishes ensures your wishes will be followed according to your plan. And, reviewing that plan regularly with an estate planning law firm like The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia ensures it matches your current wishes and goals.

Why Is it Crucial to Review Your Will Regularly?

Your will is not a static legal document. As your life changes, so also might your wishes regarding how your assets are distributed after your death. It's common for relationships, financial circumstances and family dynamics to change over time. Each significant shift in your life may warrant a review and possible update of your will.

Have Family Dynamics Changed?

One of the most common reasons to update your will occurs when your family dynamics change. Have you recently married, divorced, or welcomed a child or grandchild? These life events may change how you want your estate distributed. It's important to review your will to ensure that new family members are included or that former spouses are removed, reflecting your current wishes.

If you've appointed guardians for your children and these guardians can no longer serve, you'll need to revise your will. The same applies if your relationships with the people you named as executor or trustee have changed.

Did You Recently Move to Virginia?

Laws governing wills and estates vary by state. If you have recently moved to Lynchburg or another city in Virginia since you last created or updated your estate plan, it's likely time to review it. The legal requirements in Virginia might differ from those in your previous residence, affecting estate administration. Meeting with a Lynchburg estate planning attorney is advisable to ensure your documents comply with local laws.

Any Changes in Tax Laws?

Virginia state and federal tax laws are constantly changing and can impact your estate planning significantly. An increase or decrease in estate or inheritance tax, for instance, could affect the value of your estate that your beneficiaries will receive. Reviewing your will with a Lynchburg estate planning attorney can help you understand the latest tax laws and revise your estate plan accordingly, ensuring that your heirs are protected from possible tax burdens.

Has the Value of Your Estate Changed Significantly?

A substantial increase or decrease in the value of your estate is another reason you should review your will. If you've acquired new assets, started a new business, or maybe some assets have depreciated significantly, your current will may no longer reflect your situation accurately. You may wish to redistribute your assets, set up a trust instead, or address the specific needs of a growing estate.

Is Your Beneficiary Information Current?

As time passes, you may need to update beneficiary information. Beneficiaries may have passed away, or your relationship with them may have changed. It’s equally important to review other estate planning documents, like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, to ensure that all beneficiary designations are up-to-date and consistent with your plan.

When Was Your Power of Attorney Last Updated?

Your financial power of attorney is a vital part of your estate plan. If your chosen agent is no longer willing or able to serve or your relationship has changed, you may want to revise this document. It is essential to have a trustworthy individual to make financial decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so.

Do You Have Peace of Mind?

One of the main reasons to review your estate plan is for your own peace of mind. Knowing that your affairs are in order and your loved ones will be taken care of according to your wishes is priceless. Regularly reviewing your estate plan every few years or after major life changes ensures that everything is up-to-date and reflects your desires. Schedule a call with our team set an appointment to review your plan, or to create one, and make your 2024 New Year's Resolution a reality!

Key Points to Remember:

  • Life changes, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or moving to a new state, necessitate a will review.
  • Legal and tax law alterations can impact your estate planning.
  • Changes in the value of your estate due to reasons like asset appreciation, starting a business, or inheritance may require adjustments in your will.
  • Regular reviews of your beneficiary designations, power of attorney and overall estate plan ensure that your current wishes are accurately reflected.
  • Peace of mind is achieved by knowing your affairs are in order and ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death.
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