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Don't risk rendering an estate plan ineffective

Some Georgia residents may feel as if they have no need to review or update their will or trust. However, a person's needs and wishes can change dramatically from the time that they first write a will or create a trust. For instance, an individual could welcome a child or grandchild into the family, and that new family member may need to be included in estate plan documents.

It is also possible that an individual gets divorced or experiences the death of a spouse. An estate plan would likely need to be altered after these events take place as well. In some cases, a person may find that his or her final wishes have changed since the plan was created. This could happen because of a falling out with a close family member or after reconciling with an old friend.

It is possible that the changes resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could make a trust obsolete. In 2019, the individual federal estate exemption is $11.4 million. Depending on a person's financial situation, it may be easier to keep assets in an estate and allow beneficiaries to get a step-up in cost basis. This could allow children or grandchildren to sell any assets that they don't want and avoid paying capital gains taxes.

As a general rule, it's a good idea to review an estate plan at least once every one or two years. This may allow an individual to learn about changes to the tax code and how they could impact a will, trust or other plan document. Meeting with an attorney may also provide an opportunity to change a beneficiary designation or ask questions about estate planning in general.

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