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Reasons to Call Your Estate Planning Attorney

Annie Rogers Portrait

Annie Rogers

Christina Knopke Portrait

Christina Knopke

In this episode, Attorneys Chrissy Knopke and Annie Rogers discuss several situations where you may want to reach out to your estate planning attorney (besides needing an estate plan). Many normal life events and financial transactions can have estate implications you may not be aware of – which ones could be worth giving your attorney a call about?

A Matter of Trust, hosted by Creative Planning Attorneys Annie Rogers and Christina Knopke, is a thoughtful, informed discussion about ideas, trends and developments in estate planning. Our mission is to educate and inspire people to make better financial choices through knowledge, tools and strategies that ensure a more prosperous future.

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Chrissy Knopke: Welcome to Creative Planning’s A Matter of Trust. I’m Chrissy Knopke; and I’m here with my friend and colleague, Annie Rogers. We’re both attorneys here at Creative Planning. And today, we’re going to discuss other reasons that you might call your estate planning attorney other than just, “Hey, I need an estate plan.” So Annie, tell us a few of the more common reasons you might pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I need to talk to an estate planning attorney.”

Annie Rogers: Sure. One of the main reasons somebody might call their estate planning attorney after they have [a plan] that’s already existing is if somebody that’s mentioned in their plan has passed away. So, if you have a spouse that passes away, or one of your children passes away, or somebody that you’ve designated as successor trustee, or executor, or financial or healthcare power of attorney, you’re probably going to need to make some updates to your plan.

Chrissy: Right. So, people always think of calling us because of death, but you should also call us in joyous times, as well. So, a birth of a new baby.

Annie: Right.

Chrissy: Or even grandkids that you want to start adding. Maybe you’re like, “Oh, well now we have five grandkids and we want to give them a little bit of something when we pass away.” And so birth of a child, birth of a grandchild, those are all great, exciting reasons to call us — not just because of bad news. It could also be money. So, tell us some of the reasons that money could cause us to get a call.

Annie: Yeah. We have clients who did plans 20 years ago and their wealth has increased significantly since then. Once you get to a certain place with your wealth, you might need to make sure you have certain estate tax planning provisions in your trust, or you might want to change how you distribute the funds to your family members.

Chrissy: And might think, “Oh, well, my daughter doesn’t need $7 million when I pass away, maybe we want to do some other things.” And so if your wealth has increased or decreased, those are some reasons to take another look at your plan and see if it’s really still meeting all of your objectives.

Annie: Right. Another reason is if you want to make a loan to someone or have made a loan, you might want to make sure that’s addressed in your estate plan. If you’ve given money to one of your children and you want that to be considered an advancement towards their ultimate inheritance. Or you want to loan the money, but you want to address it in a promissory note so that it’s not considered a gift and you want to make sure it gets paid back. Those are things that we can help with.

Chrissy: We’ve also done a podcast before on when you move, why you would need to call your estate planning attorney, but some people just buy additional real estate in the state they don’t reside in. And that would also require us to take another look at whether this piece of property needs to go into a trust or it needs a beneficiary deed. So, those are all some of the great reasons that you may want to call us. The other one is businesses.

Annie: Right. So first you to make sure that you’re somehow getting your business into your trust at some point, whether it’s now or upon your death. Also, if this is a small, family business, does one of your kids work in the business? Do we want to make sure you have some sort of planning for who’s receiving the business or how that’s going to be divvied up after you’re gone? Because that can create a lot of complexity and issues.

Chrissy: And if the biggest asset is the business, and one son is getting all of that, is there some sort of buyout for the other children in the plan? So, there’s a lot of different reasons, not just someone passed away, to give your estate planning attorney a call.

Annie: Right. And you know, one of the other things with new property is if you’ve moved. And I know we’ve talked about this in the past, but if you move from state to state, that’s always a good time to talk to your estate planning attorney because different states have different laws about certain things. And you want to make sure that you’re covering your bases with new provisions that you need. And probably the last thing is if there are any major law changes that might affect your plan. For instance, with the SECURE Act that was passed last year, that changed how beneficiaries other than spouses can receive retirement accounts after the person who earned the money passed away.

Chrissy: There might also be significant changes to the tax code in years to come. And so that might necessitate a call to your estate planning attorney to see if you’re still in the best plan, and it’s going to optimize your tax planning for the future.

Annie: Right. To sum it up, those are some reasons why you might want to call your estate planning attorney.

Chrissy: And if you’re ever unsure, you can always ask your wealth manager, “Hey, this happened in my life, X, Y, and Z. Should we reach out to the estate planning attorney?” And they’ll definitely let you know.

Thank you for listening to Creative Planning’s A Matter of Trust.

Disclosure: This commentary is provided for general information purposes only, and should not be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable, but is not guaranteed. This commentary and the information provided may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions under the applicable law and ethical rules. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

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