How to Secure and Update an Estate Plan Ahead of Changes

Timing is Everything to Maximize Estate Planning Benefits

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With the buzz around Washington, D.C. about the looming tax changes ahead, estate planning is on top of the list to have the most potential for impacts to individuals and business owners.  “Our phones have seen a definite uptick in activity with questions about considerations and alterations around estate plans, gifting, and tax strategies,” says K·Coe’s Jim Rein, partner, and estate plan tax expert.  “It’s no longer a matter of if, but when, estate planning changes will happen, and now is certainly the time to evaluate – or establish – your estate plan.”

If you’re not sure whether a year, or three, or ten, should be the barometer for needing an update, K·Coe’s proactive advisory team has compiled a list of the primary areas that are typically assessed to determine where you might benefit from an estate planning update.

“We strongly recommend that if your answers to any of these questions have changed since the last time your estate plan was assessed that you reevaluate your plan and tax strategy in greater detail with a professional advisor.  This will allow you to capture and position yourself, family, and legacy for the greatest benefits, and be in a good position to pivot with upcoming changes as well,” advises Rein.

Put Your Estate Plan to the Test: Have You Covered All Critical Areas?

Estate plans are never a ‘one-and-done’ process.  As life moves and changes, and grows and steadies, there are important adjustments that should be managed within your estate plan simultaneously.

Besides the obvious changes in marital status, death, or major entity transactions, here are some other common areas, in the form of questions, to assess whether life has created estate plan changes, opportunities, or risks along the way that need to be reflected upon and updated accordingly.


    • How and when did you obtain your wealth?
      • Do you own an interest in a family business?


    • Of your values, what are the three most important to you, and are these reflected?
      • Do you feel that your descendants share your principal values?


    • How well do your children get along, and how do you expect them to get along after your death?


    • Do you discuss your business or your estate planning with your children?
      • Have you made any promises to any of your children concerning your estate planning?
      • Should estate plans of parents divide equally between their children (as well as the descendants of a deceased child)?


    • Do you have any interest in leaving any portion of your estate to charity?


    • What goals do you have for yourself personally and for the business/operations in general?
      • How are these goals different than (in conflict with) other owners/family members of the business?


    • What would happen to the family business if you weren’t available to run it tomorrow?


    • To what degree and extent do you want non-active family member to financially benefit from the family business?


    • How do your current buy/sell agreements protect those family members that will stay actively engaged in the family business?


  • What is your current process for income tax planning?

For insights and thought leadership on the potential changes ahead, read our other Estate Planning blog here:

If you need an updated estate or legacy plan, or would like help positioning your estate tax or gifting strategy, contact a K·Coe advisor.

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