You may be thinking that if you have a simple will, and you have already planned for your children, there’s no reason to update your estate plan. But there are lots of good reasons to revisit your estate planning documents, including the following:
- Are you in a high-risk profession, such as being a physician, attorney, or business owner? You may want to consider a Domestic Asset Protection Trust, a tool that the legislature gave Connecticut residents in January 2021, that can be used to protect assets and minimize transfer taxes, while shielding trust assets from future creditors of the grantor. Gen. Stat. Sec. 45a-487j, et seq.
- Are you a woman of childbearing age? In 2019, the Probate Code was updated to provide specific options in an advance healthcare directive if a decision must be made about whether to provide life support for a pregnant woman. If you are a woman of childbearing age, laying out your wishes and discussing them with your loved ones could save them a heart-wrenching decision in an unimaginably difficult situation. Gen. Stat. 19a-575.
- Did you get a job that offers stock options as compensation? Startups and even established tech giants now regularly offer stock options as part of compensation packages to lure and retain top talent. Your Power of Attorney can now include giving your agent the power to —or prohibiting your agent from—buying, selling, exchanging, or assigning your hard-earned stock options. Gen. Stat. Sec. 1-351f.
- Did you start your own business or company during the pandemic? A good estate plan incorporates business succession instructions so that your family and business partners do not wind up litigating your stake in a business.
- Have you acquired new property or opened bank accounts? To minimize probate court involvement after your death, it is important to review your assets and make sure that they are properly titled, and that you’ve designated the right beneficiary where appropriate, so that the accounts pass to your beneficiaries with as little entanglement as possible.
- Have your children gone through major life changes? Maybe your life has been stable, but if you have young children, children with financial challenges such as bankruptcies or creditor difficulties, children who gotten married/divorced, or children with either physical or mental health issues, you may want to consider whether to put their inheritance (no matter how small) into a trust so you can control how the trust assets are spent A trust can also protect the trust assets – either from creditors or even from your own children or their spouses. There are many different types of trusts, and a skilled attorney can help you decide whether one of them might fit your needs.
- Are you interested in so-called “Dynasty Trusts”? Connecticut recently extended the vesting period required by the so-called Rule Against Perpetuities (RAP) to 800 years, instead of the customary 90 years. Gen. Stat. Sec. 45a-491(f). While explaining this technical jargon could be the subject of an entire textbook, the bottom line is that this new, super-sized RAP gives Connecticut residents with significant assets some of the greatest flexibility in the nation to retain wealth within families. But there’s a catch: it only applies to trusts created on or after January 1, 2020. Because of these new options, it is critical to sit down with an estate planning attorney to determine whether a “Dynasty Trust” would be suitable for your estate.
These are just a sample of the new developments and tools that should be considered in designing an estate plan that fits your unique needs. The rules governing estate planning are like a complicated jigsaw puzzle. If just one piece of your estate plan does not fit into the puzzle, your beneficiaries will suffer the consequences, whether they are emotional, financial, or legal. The attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. can assist Connecticut and New York residents with estate planning matters to make sure that your estate plan is drafted carefully and with an eye to the future. Attorney Joseph C. Maya may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com. The above is not intended to constitute tax advice, and to discuss the potential tax implications of a will or trust, you should consult with a tax professional.