Keep Your Estate Plan Current

Estate planning is important, and it is just as important to make sure a qualified financial advisor reviews your estate plan on a regular basis to ensure that as laws change, your intentions can still be carried out.

After a death in the family, it is not uncommon for survivors to squabble over how an estate is distributed. It is also not uncommon for the heirs to be surprised at how federal and state law can alter the amount of money they receive. Reuters reported on how what happened to one California family offered “life lessons for the masses.” 

The Twetens, a couple who sold their Magnolia Audio Video chain to Best Buy in 2000, created a trust agreement in 2008, but they could not have foreseen the way the estate tax laws of 2010 would derail their plans. Their estate plans hinged on the federal estate tax…but in 2010 there was no estate tax. Normally, “children get the amount of assets in the federal estate tax exclusion…with the rest going to a marital trust for the surviving spouse.” Eileen Tweten died in April 2010 and since there was no estate tax, “her whole estate, rather a few million dollars, would have gone to the kids, leaving Leonard [Tweten] out of the money.

The family ended up in court with Leonard Tweten at odds with his adult children over an amendment to the estate plan.

You do not have to amass the wealth of the Twetens to have a trust. Estate planning matters for families at all income levels. A Fee-Only financial planner can look out for you and see to it that you have an up-to-date plan in place to distribute your hard-earned resources. Remember that wealth is about more than your portfolio; it is about mindset, decision-making, insurance needs and plans, and keeping beneficiaries current.

About the author

Claire Emory, MBA, CFA, CFP®

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