Updating Your Estate Plan

When Should I Update My Estate Plan?
When completing an estate plan, people always wonder how often it should be updated. My typical attorney answer is “it depends.” I am not trying to be vague, but it really does depend on whether there have been any law changes and changes in your personal family situation. It is a good idea to review your estate plan at least every three years.

I Have Good News and Bad News
Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? Ok, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The bad news is that there have been some law changes that can be bad for estate plans drafted in the past. Ever heard of HIPAA? The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Under HIPAA rules, doctors cannot talk freely about a patient’s medical condition without getting in trouble. The doctor could be fined or even put in jail for passing along health information without consent. In the past, if you were no longer able to manage your affairs the doctor could provide confirmation of this. Now under HIPAA if the doctor is asked if someone is capable of serving as trustee of a trust the doctor is probably going to say they cannot tell you that. This creates a big problem with getting anything done or making crucial decisions in a timely manner.

Get a HIPAA Update Package
What should you do? Do what we call a “HIPAA Update Package.” This update package includes an amendment to your Living Trust, a codicil to your will, a HIPAA Authorization form and new Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will and Health Power of Attorney that include language to make these documents “HIPAA compliant.” This basically means that you are saying it is ok for those that you have appointed to act on your behalf should you become unable to, to go ahead and act despite HIPAA. It lets the doctors know it is ok to disclose needed information.

Now For the Good News
The good news is that the laws have changed relating to the tax treatment of retirement accounts. This is a huge opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for your family by taking advantage of the new tax rules. If you don’t know about these new rules you are missing out. To learn more, go immediately to the (INSERT LINK HERE) Retirement Account Stretch-Out Planning section of this website. Have you done any estate planning for your Retirement Account? Most people have not and don’t know what I am talking about. Don’t miss out on this. It could cost your family hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars. Check into this right away.



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