There are two reasons you may need to update your trust. First, because the law has changed. Second, because something in your life has changed.
Some recent changes in the law have been: (1) a new power of attorney law in 2012; (2) a new funeral representative law this year; (3) annual changes in the estate tax exemptions (for example, how much of your assets are taxed if you die?); and (4) constantly changing long-term care rules (for example, how can you protect your home and life savings from nursing home and other long-term care costs?). If these issues concern you, then you need to have your estate plan reviewed right now to be sure it’s up to date.
Regarding a change in your life, we are concerned about three things – your family, your finances and your health. Here’s a breakdown: (1) has your family changed? For example, have there been any birth or deaths? Or do you want to change your beneficiaries or people in charge of your financial or medical decisions? (2) have your finances changed significantly, up or down? Another major issue we see is that many people have not “funded” their trusts (funding means putting assets into the trust). When they make this mistake, probate will be required; and (3) has your health changed? If your health has deteriorated, you want to make sure your estate plan is updated to allow you to deal with long-term care issues.
Glenn Matecun is a partner with the law firm of Matecun, Thomas & Olson, PLC in Howell. He is an attorney focusing on estate planning, elder law and senior Veterans’ benefits, and answers readers’ questions on legal matters affecting individuals, their families and their businesses. Email questions to [email protected], or if your question is urgent, call (517) 548-7400. Visit us at www.MichiganEstatePlans.com. The information in this column is not intended as legal advice.