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A new grandchild, changing tax laws and your estate plan

Perhaps you sat down with your attorney after your first child was born to develop a comprehensive estate plan. That was a good idea, but it was decades ago.

Since then there have been many changes in your life. For example, now you are on your second marriage, you have a grandchild and the business you started 30 years ago has flourished and expanded. It sounds like you are overdue for an estate plan update.

Heading off disputes

If you have accumulated a significant amount of wealth through the years, an outdated estate plan could lead to disputes among your heirs. For instance, the assets the children of your second marriage expect to inherit may go not only to your firstborn but also to your former spouse because you have not made the appropriate changes, and your original estate plan is still in force.

Financial considerations

As a business owner, you know the importance of keeping abreast of the changing tax laws. Some of these laws also affect your estate planning strategy and will continue to have an impact after you die. Your executor will have to deal with tax matters in settling your final affairs, some of which will affect your heirs in terms of the assets they receive.

Making time

Like many people, you have probably put your estate planning documents away in a safe place where they have remained all these years. The thought of updating may have crossed your mind at some point, but you may not have wanted to face family discussions that might prove uncomfortable. You may have a very busy life, but it would be a good idea to make time to learn about current laws, tax advantages and benefits to heirs. You need to address your own current needs, such as your powers of attorney, update your will and develop a wealth transfer plan that speaks to the future of all those you love.

When to act

The best time to update your estate plan is whenever a major event occurs, such as the birth of that new grandchild. To make the task of updating easier, experts say you should plan to review your estate plan every few years to ensure that you are not overlooking any changes that may be in order.