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Updating wills and estate plans

It can be difficult for a person to decide how to divide his or her assets after death, but it can also be comforting to have a plan in place. However, after writing a will, it isn't unusual for some people to put the document away and not look at it again for several years. People living in Massachusetts, or any other state, may wish to dust off their wills and see if revisions are needed. Over the years, laws and tax codes have changed, and wills and estate plans may need to change with them in order to remain effective.

Married couples who have large estates may be affected by new tax laws that have been put into place within the last year. In previous years, there was an exemption for estates worth more than $11 million, but that number has recently been doubled to $22 million. Many trusts that were once needed to help families avoid paying some estate taxes may no longer be necessary. However, some people may still wish to look into charitable trusts as a way of easing the financial burdens placed on their families after their passing.

Those who do not have a large estate may wish to check other aspects of their will and estate plan. Ensuring that powers of attorney and health care proxies are properly set up and documented may be the main concern for some individuals. Those people may want to review who they have put in charge of their finances or health care decisions and change them if they feel it is necessary. Familiarizing these individuals, as well as family members, with the benefactor's financial accounts and insurance policies can also be beneficial. 

There are a wide variety of reasons for people to review and possibly revise their wills. Speaking with an attorney can help Massachusetts residents to understand how any changes in the law might affect their assets or beneficiaries. Attorneys can also help their clients to clearly and effectively communicate their wishes to those who are left behind. 

Source: startribune.com, "Your estate plan needs an update, even if it is new", Beth Pinsker, Jan. 20, 2018

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