The new year is a good time to review your estate plan and determine whether any changes that occurred last year require changes or additions to your documents.
You may not need to make any additions or modifications. However, it's wise to at least determine whether any are required. Below are some questions to consider.
Have your assets increased or decreased significantly?
Perhaps you received an inheritance or sold your home for a significant profit. You may have also decided to make a substantial gift to a family member instead of leaving it to them in your will. These things may require changes to your estate plan.
Have there been changes in your family?
Marriage, divorce or the death of a spouse will likely warrant significant changes. Depending on how your estate plan is set up, a new grandchild may require a change as well.
If any of your administrators, such as your executor, trustees or anyone you've given power of attorney has passed away, you'll need to name someone else unless you already designated a successor. If any of them have moved or had a significant change in their own life, like a serious illness, make sure they're still able and willing to take on the responsibilities if required.
Are you impacted by any of the recent tax law changes?
If you have a sizable estate, you and your attorney have likely worked to minimize the tax burden on your heirs. It's wise to find out if any of the provisions in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will impact your estate and your heirs.
While you're at it, this is a good time to make other changes that are less urgent -- like perhaps adding a new charitable organization to your list of beneficiaries or adding more detail to your provisions for the care of your pets. If you aren't certain whether or not you need to make changes to your estate, your attorney can advise you.