Creating a will many years ago was really sensible. However, after that, you might have put it in your safe or filing cabinet and just forgotten about it entirely. That may have been several decades ago and if you did not update your will since then, it may no longer cover everything that you want it to, which means that your wishes may no longer be stated accurately.
Over the years, some laws may have changed since your will was finalized not to mention whatever has happened in your life that may require revision. This applies to your will as well as to your other estate planning documents, which are important to you and to those who will inherit your assets after you pass on.
Why do you need to update your estate planning documents?
You may not realize how much time has gone by since you last updated your estate planning documents. If it is anymore than 12 years, revising your documents is definitely a good idea. You will not only want to do this because there have been some significant changes in your life but also because the federal estate laws have changed. Some of those changes are:
- If your estate planning documents were written before 2001: After that year, the amount of money that you are able to leave to your heirs and still not be subject to federal tax has gone up from $675,000 to $12 million. This new law only came into effect in 2022.
- If you moved your residency from one state to another within the United States: If the state where you currently reside has an estate tax exemption that is either higher or lower than the estate tax exemption of the state in which you used to live.
- You went through some major life event: You got married, divorced, are currently in a serious relationship, or now have children who are no longer minors.
- You changed your wishes: If your wishes have changed since you wrote your estate planning documents, you will need to designate new heirs and new details that are applicable now. Perhaps you wish to have new people appointed to manage your finances and to make decisions about your medical care if you should become incapacitate.
Which parts of your estate plan do you need to revise?
So, now you realize that it is important for you to revise your estate planning documents. How do you know which parts you need to revise and which parts don’t need any sort of revision? The four most important documents that will most likely need revision are:
- Your will: This document states specifically which of your assets are designated for which heir(s).
- Durable power of attorney: This allows the person(s) of your choosing to make decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated.
- Healthcare proxy: This allows your designated person(s) to make decisions about your health care on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
- Advance directive: This allows your designated person(s) to carry out your wishes when it comes to your healthcare treatment if you cannot speak for yourself.
The news is not all bad
Revising your estate planning documents does not mean that you will be forced to pay more money in taxes necessarily. In fact, in some cases, the amount that you will need to pay will be less than when you originally wrote your documents. In some cases, additional exemptions have been put in place that did not exist many years ago.
Help from a knowledgeable Virginia attorney
You have worked hard to acquire all of the assets that you have at this point in your life and the last thing that you want is for anything to get in the way of your being able to pass down those assets according to your wishes. It is your legacy and you want that legacy to be passed on to your loved ones in the manner that you wish. You may not be able to control what happens after you have passed on but you can control what happens while you are still here. The solid advice of a knowledgeable Virginia estate planning attorney can really make things easier for you and they can advise you so that everything is done according to your wishes.