Many people assume trusts are only used by wealthy people for estate planning or that trusts are too expensive. In fact, the majority of trusts prepared in the United States are for people who do not have to worry about estate taxes, but who want the privacy, peace-of-mind, and flexibility that trusts offer compared to wills. [Read more…]
The following information is advertising material for legal services and contains general information about legal issues. It should not be construed as legal advice and your situation may be unique. You should always consult with an attorney about your particular situation before acting on any information contained in this post.
Make a New Year’s Resolution for Estate Planning
Every year, we make resolutions for the new year, often resolving to take on those goals we know need our attention–eat better, lose weight, save more money, spend more time with family, or finally finish that project in the garage. Getting an estate plan, or updating an estate plan, should be on that list too. Estate planning in the new year is a great idea for many reasons:
- An estate plan brings peace of mind to you and your loved ones.
- An estate plan assures you maintain control over your property and your person.
- A trust-centered estate plan can avoid the costs and delays of probate.
- An estate plan assures your family is taken care of in the way you want if something happens to you.
- An estate plan can help avoid family conflicts or uncertainty.
- For parents of minor children, an estate plan can assure you have a say in who takes care of your children if something happens to you and how the money you leave is to be used for their care.
- For couples with children from prior marriages, estate planning is especially important to assure children are not inadvertently excluded.
If you already have an estate plan, it is just as important to make sure everything is current and does not need to be updated. Use the following questions to determine if you need an estate plan update:
- Is your estate plan older than 2012? If so, it might require an update to comply with new privacy laws, especially HIPAA.
- If you have a trust that was created before 2012, consider having an attorney review it to determine if it can be simplified after substantial changes in estate tax laws.
- Have you had major changes in your financial or personal situation since you had your estate plan prepared? Divorce, death of family members, children leaving home, started a business, or significant changes in income?
- Have any of your wishes in your estate plan changed? For example, do you want to change who or how much someone gets or do you want to change who you nominate as your personal representative or agent under a power of attorney?
- If you have a trust, have you purchased property since you created the trust and is that property held in the name of your trustee?
Of course, if you are not sure, you can always consult with an attorney about whether you need an estate plan or whether your existing estate plan needs updated. At the Wages Group, we offer free consultations for estate planning. Contact estate planning attorney Jake Brooks today at (307) 684-2008 or by clicking here to set up your appointment in Buffalo or Sheridan.
The preceding information is advertising material for legal services.
Wages Group attorney Jake Brooks testified before the Wyoming Legislature’s Task Force On Digital Information Privacy in Laramie on September 24, 2015. Jake was invited to offer testimony before the task force on draft legislation designed to protect a person’s digital information in the event of death and disability. Jake testified on the importance of having legislation that protects a person’s privacy and right to direct what happens to their digital assets, including social media accounts, if they die. The task force is currently considering a modified version of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. Among other things, the proposed bill would allow individuals to leave directions for their digital accounts, digital assets, and social media accounts in their estate planning documents.
In addition to testifying before the task force on this topic, Jake Brooks recently also taught a Continuing legal education course on the issue of digital assets, death and disability at the Wyoming State Bar’s annual convention in Jackson, and has given numerous presentations across Wyoming on the importance of digital asset planning to attorneys, financial planners, trust officers, and members of the general public. Among other considerations, Jake Brooks has focused his presentations on the changing use of smart phones, e-mail, and cloud services, which have for many people replaced the traditional photo album and mailbox. When people pass away or become disabled, family members have increased difficulty accessing this information for estate administration and preserving priceless family memories that are stored online. Jake Brooks has been working with lawmakers and other attorneys to educate the public and professionals on the importance of this issue and to promote estate planning that includes digital asset planning.
Jake Brooks is a Buffalo, Wyoming estate planning attorney with ten years of experience working with clients on individualized and innovative estate planning, including both wills and trusts. If you have questions about estate planning or digital assets, you can contact Jake by clicking here. The Wages Group has offices in both Buffalo and Sheridan.