As the new year quickly approaches, many Texans have end-of-year goals they would like to accomplish before 2022. Be it buying presents for the holidays, reconnecting with friends and family, or cleaning out the house, the end of the year is often the busiest time. However, many people forget that this is the perfect time to ensure estate planning matters are handled. While this may seem overwhelming, there are many small tasks that can be accomplished to make the estate planning process easier and ensure Texans are up to date with their retirement, elder care, and other planning needs.
Review Power of Attorney Documents
When crafting an estate plan, most individuals create both health care proxy and financial power of attorney documents. The person listed on the health care proxy is able to make medical decisions on the other person’s behalf if they are incapacitated. On the other hand, the financial power of attorney is able to make financial choices for the person if the individual can no longer make them themselves. It is important to review these documents yearly or after a major life change has been made. For example, if someone moves across the country, it may be smarter to change the proxy and power of attorney to someone who lives nearby, so they can be close in case of emergency to make these life-altering decisions.
Revisit Your Will and Beneficiary Designations
When people draft their wills—often with the help of an estate planning attorney—it tends to be a well-thought-out endeavor. Despite this, it is critical to review the estate plan and the people listed as the individual’s beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are the individuals named in the will who will receive the individual’s assets.
Relationships constantly evolve, so a person that was at one point considered a close family member or friend may no longer have that designation. Therefore, the individual may decide they do not want them as a beneficiary anymore. Additionally, if someone has passed away—or an asset listed in the will has been sold—they should be removed from the estate plan to avoid issues in the future.
Ensure the Estate Value Falls Under the Current Tax Exemption Limit
The estate tax exemption rate changes most years, so it is important to ensure a person’s estate will fall under this amount. If an individual’s estate is worth more than the stated amount, then they will be required to pay an estate tax. In 2021, the exemption rate is $11.58 million. Estate planning attorneys can advise clients when this amount changes and how to reconfigure their assets to avoid this tax.
Contact a Texas Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one still needs to complete one of the items on your estate planning checklist, contact the Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. With decades of experience handling a wide variety of estate planning matters, our attorneys can make sure to answer any questions you may have and update your estate plan by the new year. Call 713-333-8900 to schedule a free, no strings attached consultation with one of our attorneys.