Posted by: Heinz Brisske

Congratulations on making some difficult decisions, designing an estate plan and implementing it! While you are in a better position than many Americans, you are not done. Estate Planning is not an event that you can complete and be done with; Estate Planning is a process that involves an ongoing dialog between you and your Estate Planning attorney, as well as your other advisors. From time to time your finances, objectives, and the needs and dynamics of your family will change. Tax laws and state and federal laws regarding trusts and wills are forever changing, so your Estate Planning attorney needs to keep up with these changes. That’s why it is critical that you stay involved in this process on an ongoing basis.

In accepting an estate planning engagement, your estate planning attorney is being asked to prepare a plan for an event (disability or death) that will take place at an undetermined time in the future. Because your attorney doesn’t know when that will be, he or she also doesn’t know:

  • Your family’s dynamics at that time;
  • The value and character of the assets that you will own;
  • How your assets will be titled, what beneficiary designations will be in effect and who those beneficiary designations will name and in what capacity;
  • How the local (state) laws will affect the interpretation of your Estate Plan and any beneficiary designations in effect;
  • The income tax implications of the distribution scheme outlined in the plan that is in effect;
  • What federal and/or state estate tax laws will determine the taxation of your estate; and
  • What other factors may be relevant to the efficient and cost-effective administration of the estate.

At Huck & Brisske, LLC, it is not our goal to simply create a plan that addresses only your current issues and does not adjust to changing circumstances over time. Neither should that be your goal.

Often, a plan will be put into place at the time a first child is born and then never reviewed or updated. It is very likely that as your family grows, your net worth increases and your goals change, as do your estate planning objectives. It is vitally important that you have a continuing relationship with an estate planning attorney to confirm that all necessary funding and follow up is properly completed and that the plan you have taken the time and expense to put into place will serve its intended purpose. A plan designed for a young parent does not maximize benefits for a wealthy individual or a senior facing long-term care issues. At all stages of life, your estate plan needs to be adjusted to meet your unique needs during that stage.

The attorneys at Huck & Brisske, LLC offer every client who prepares a new estate plan, or who restates an existing plan, the opportunity to enroll in our FAMILY LEGACY PLAN™. That plan allows us to monitor your estate plan, gives us the opportunity to meet with you on a regular basis, and to carry on a dialog about what is happening with your family, with your finances, and with laws that affect your estate plan, such as federal and state estate tax laws. Most people visit their doctor and their dentist for a regular annual checkup, and understand the importance of getting the oil changed in their car on a regular basis, but they fail to maintain the integrity of the plan that will provide for them in the event of their disability and transfer their assets at the time of their deaths.

By ensuring that your plan is up to date and in line with your changing circumstances and current as far as the laws in effect from time to time, you will save your family time and expense when your estate needs to be administered. This is invaluable as it will allow your family the time and resources to put their hearts and energies where is will be most needed and where it belongs: with your family, and not in the lawyer’s office or in a courtroom.