Many adults in Massachusetts have the tendency to forget to update their estate plans. If one has not reviewed their plan for several years, some elements could be missing or out of date. Most people want to at least have a will and powers of attorney that appoint agents to manage financial and medical affairs in cases of incapacitation. Even with these documents, some people neglect to direct the distribution of personal items. This can cause as much or more conflict than assets of greater value.
Over time, families change, and executors or beneficiaries may have died. Life insurance policies might also be out of date. Furthermore, the estate tax exemption has increased several times in the past decade. This means strategies from earlier years may no longer be necessary. However, people should be aware that the current estate tax exemption is scheduled to sunset in 2025. It may also be necessary to update some documents if the estate owner has moved from another state.
When it comes to trusts, some creators make the mistake of naming a friend or family member as the trustee. However, this job often requires a level of expertise that would be better entrusted to a professional. Beneficiary designations should also be reviewed.
An attorney could assist a client in reviewing an estate plan and ensuring that other common errors do not render it invalid. For example, some people fail to fund their trusts. Others may try to write a will themselves but might use language that leaves their intentions unclear. Beneficiary designations might contradict instructions in a will or trust. Since these designations override wills and trusts, this could lead to challenges after the estate owner's death.