Man organizing files in a binder

Spring Cleaning Tips for Organizing Your Estate Plan

Spring is a time of renewal and rejuvenation, a perfect opportunity to clear out the old and prepare for the new. This concept doesn’t just apply to your home or office but extends to all areas of your life, including your estate plan. At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., we emphasize the importance of regular reviews and updates to your estate plan to ensure that it meets legal requirements and accurately reflects your current wishes and circumstances. 

As spring begins, the time is right for taking a close look at your plans and documents with an experienced lawyer. Our accomplished estate planning attorneys have been serving clients throughout Southeastern Massachusetts for nearly two decades and are eager to help you take a fresh look at your plan to make sure it covers all the bases and provides you and your family with financial security now and in the future.

Reasons for Spring Cleaning Your Estate Plan

Because life is a fluid process, adapting to changes in your circumstances, lifestyle, and relationships is essential. In terms of estate planning, this means examining your estate plan regularly to make sure it aligns with recent events, such as:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Illness, incapacity, or death of a family member
  • Purchase of real estate or other significant property
  • Retirement 

Laws and regulations pertaining to inheritance and taxes undergo changes as well, and it is crucial that your documents reflect these changes and that your plan remains in compliance.

Not only that, but financial decisions that were optimal a few years ago may no longer provide the best tax advantages or legal protections today. Regular reviews with one of our knowledgeable lawyers can ensure that your estate plan complies with current laws and employs the most effective strategies for asset protection, tax minimization, and legacy planning.

Spring Cleaning Your Estate Plan in 4 Easy Steps

Estate plan spring cleaning includes more than just reviewing documents. It also involves considering any alterations in your personal priorities. With this in mind, you should be prepared to do each of the following:

1. Review Your Beneficiaries

Marriages, divorces, births, and deaths, new relationships, and those that have become strained or resulted in estrangement  all may necessitate updates to your list of beneficiaries, on insurance policies, on your will, or in your business. Such changes may also require redistribution of your estate to include new additions or deletions. Your philanthropic interests may also evolve, prompting changes to charitable bequests in your will or trusts.

2. Review Other Appointees

While you’re at it, be careful to consider whether the individuals you have named for the following roles are still appropriate and available; if not, you should promptly make any necessary changes in your foundational documents concerning:

3. Review Your Personal Healthcare Decisions

Your advance directive, also known as a living will, should also be reconsidered periodically since, in many cases, perspectives alter as we age in regard to what measures we want to be taken at the end of our lives. 

4. Protect Your Assets

An essential aspect of estate planning is ensuring that your assets are protected and will be distributed according to your wishes. This includes not only the assets you currently possess but also any new acquisitions.

If you have made significant purchases that add value to your estate, you should take immediate steps to protect them from excessive taxation, scams, creditors, lawsuits, divorce settlements, and bankruptcy. Such purchases may include:

  • Real estate
  • Jewelry
  • Artwork
  • Other collectibles (e.g. antique autos)
  • Business interests

Our asset protection attorneys will assist you in getting appropriate insurance and establishing trusts for such valuable properties in order to protect them now, optimize tax benefits, and result in a smooth transition of ownership or business succession when you pass away.

Also, if your child has been diagnosed with special needs, you may want to establish a special needs trust to ensure that they will remain eligible for government benefits if they should need them in the future. 

The Takeaway

Spring cleaning your home provides you with a feeling of renewed energy and control going forward. Spring cleaning your estate plan does much the same thing. Contact one of our highly capable attorneys to ensure that your updated estate plan does everything you want it to do to see to it that your loved ones are provided for, your assets are protected, and your wishes are honored.