Maria Avesian, JD
LJPR Financial Advisors
The New Year brings with it the opportunity for a fresh start and to make positive changes. With the passing of the new tax law comes an opportunity to “dust” off your current estate plan to reflect the new changes or if you have neglected to establish an estate plan to create one. In most cases, current estate plans can be simplified. The new tax law sets the amount an individual can pass tax-free at $11M ($22M for a married couple). For most people this means there will be no taxes due from their estates following death. Many current estate plans for married couples are complex (they were set up when the estate exclusion was $600,000) and have individual trusts set up to maximize the old marital deduction and to avoid or reduce estate taxes. For couples with the same beneficiaries and assets below the new exemption amount a joint trust can be created. This will greatly reduce the complexity of the plan and the cumbersome paperwork.
In addition to having current trusts reviewed, a review of the overall estate plan should be done. Are the individuals named as agents on power of attorneys, as executors and as guardians for minor children still good choices? Medical power of attorneys created before 2006 need to be reviewed to make sure they are compliant with HIPAA laws. Financial power of attorneys should be reviewed to make sure they cover digital assets. With the growing reliance on the use of computers, storage of electronic data (such as family photos), and social media it is important that your Estate Plan addresses these issues. The financial power of attorney should give your named agent the power to access digital information.
Once your estate plan is updated the final step is to educate your family and help make it easier for them to handle things following your disability or death. In addition to the legal estate plan documents you should give your loved ones simple directions to guide them. We at LaBRECQUE & ASSOCIATES have created the “Last Wishes Letter”. This letter provides answers to questions the legal estate plan documents do not. For example: Who should they contact for help? Where are accounts located and how can they be accessed? What should be done with digital information, and who should control digital information?
For a review of your estate plan and to receive a complimentary copy of the “Last Wishes Letter” please contact LaBRECQUE & ASSOCIATES by emailing Maria L. Avesian at email@example.com or by calling 248-641-7400.