Evaluating an Existing Estate Plan

Posted by : | February 20, 2020

Evaluating an Existing Estate Plan

If you already have a trust, will and/or incapacity documents, we will meet with you to go over them, help you understand various aspects of the documents and how they direct the implementation of the transfer of assets at death.

Sometimes individuals and couples do not understand the provisions of an existing trust, such as how assets will pass, what potential complications may be triggered, or what will happen if one of your beneficiaries or agents is no longer living.  We can review the documents with you and provide an overview or, if preferred, we can prepare a summary analysis with recommendations of what is advisable to change.

Many married couples who have a trust that was prepared a decade or more ago have what is called an “A-B” or “A-B-C” trust, where are assets are divided into two or three trusts after the first spouse dies.  There may be more detriments to this arrangement than benefits.  Clients need to understand and evaluate whether they want to keep this plan in place or make changes to how the trust is administered.  Many implications of these types of trusts have to do with tax benefits and burdens (such as the tax returns that must be prepared annually after the first spouse dies), as well as control over subsequent decisions and amendments to the trust by the surviving spouse.

You need a good understanding of the terms of your trust and this is why you should see an experienced estate and trust attorney.  This is especially important if you used an online platform or non-lawyer to prepare your estate planning documents.  Since the impact of your documents can amount to thousands of dollars in fees and taxes, you need to know what is in store based on the language of your documents.