How long has it been since you reviewed your estate planning documents? Are the ways in which your assets are titled consistent with your distribution plans as stated in your estate planning documents? Is your executor/executrix still available and willing to serve in that capacity? If you have minor children, have you provided for a guardian of your choosing? Are you taking advantage of the marital deduction to which you are entitled? Are you taking advantage of the federal estate tax exemption equivalent? Have you considered the possible benefits you might attain from a revocable living trust? Have you included your church and other Christian ministries, which are near and dear to your heart, in your plan either by bequest in your will or revocable living trust, or by beneficiary designation of life insurance or retirement accounts? Have you executed a durable power of attorney and a living will directive?
Statistics reveal a very high percentage of Americans who have wills do not have current wills. In other words, if they died today the wills they have in place do not reflect their current wishes regarding distribution of assets. Circumstances in their lives have changed since they executed their wills, but they have not kept their wills current. There have been deaths, births, graduations, marriages, divorces, incapacitated loved ones or relocations to or from another state. And yet, these individuals have neglected their Christian duty to review, and if necessary, revise their estate planning documents. Remember what the Apostle Paul advised the Christians of his day and is still advising us today via the Holy Scriptures in 1 Timothy 5:8: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
And what about those of you who do not have even a basic will let alone any other estate planning documents? According to a recent Rocket Lawyer survey you are among the 61% of Americans who fall into that very depressing category.
Laurie Valentine, our trust counsel, suggests one revisit his or her estate plan every three to five years, or sooner if circumstances warrant, to keep it up to date. And, she strongly urges every one not to procrastinate in tending to these all important matters. After all, it will be your family and other heirs that likely will pay the price for your procrastination. If you have questions, feel free to call Laurie toll free. Also, invite her to your church or adult group to present our “Estate Planning Mistakes and Solutions” seminar.
The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.