John Bullis: Time flies: Review your estate plan documents

It is surprising how fast time flies. If you have not reviewed your estate planning documents for more than two years, or if you moved to Nevada and your documents were done in another state, please review your plan and documents with an attorney.

In 2020 the gift and estate combined exclusion from tax is $11.58 million. That means most folks can make gifts and still have most or all of the exclusion available to avoid paying death tax.

The annual gift tax exclusion in 2020 remains at $15,000 total gifts in the calendar year to each individual you give to, plus tuition paid directly to the school and medical expenses of the individual that you pay directly to the hospital or doctor.

When looking at your will or trust, consider the person(s) you indicated that will be administering your estate or trust (executor or trustee). Is that still the best choice? In addition to being sure the person(s) you have designated are the best ones, it is important to meet with them and discuss your goals and desires.

If one of your beneficiaries has special problems (addiction, is on welfare, has special needs) then meeting with your attorney is important. Your attorney can help you with a Special Needs Trust provision for that beneficiary. The goal is to help provide for the beneficiary without causing a loss of any of their welfare benefits.

Hopefully you have Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney forms. But if your situation has changed or those forms were done in a prior state, your attorney can help you do new ones that meet Nevada law. For example, a Financial Power of Attorney that was done in another state might not be acceptable to your bank or stockbroker.

Maybe you could also do a special letter to your beneficiaries about your desires on funeral arrangements. If cremation is desired, it would be best to have that in writing.

It might be good to do a list of which special items are to be given to which beneficiary. You might indicate which items are of special value. That old table might be an antique, etc.

It is important to check to see if the beneficiary designations for IRAs, retirement plans, annuities, life insurance etc. are still what you desire. If the custodian or insurance company does not have your beneficiary designations on file, ask for a new form and get that on file. And, keep a record for your files as well.

Did you hear “Behind all your stories is always your mother’s story. Because hers is where yours begins.” Mitch Albom


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