Missouri residents who wish to determine how their assets will be distributed after death may choose to create a will that clearly spells out their wishes. However, there may come a time when the will should be updated or modified.
One of the cornerstones of estate planning is to base future plans on the relevant circumstances. For example, a person may name a spouse as executor of his or her estate and provide the most significant share to him or her. However, if this person divorces, changes may need to be made to the will. Likewise, if the individual remarries or has another child, updates are likely to be needed. Another reason when a will may need to be updated is if the testator wants to change the way that assets are distributed. If a beneficiary dies or has a falling out with the testator, the testator may provide his or her share to go to someone else. Likewise, if a testator wants to make a gift to a charity that was not previously named in the will, this should be added to the will.
Another reason to review wills periodically is to determine if any outdated trusts may disadvantage surviving spouses or beneficiaries. For example, some older wills included bypass trusts as a way to avoid estate taxes when the exemption limit was only $675,000 per individual. However, these trusts also served as a drawback because the spouse did not receive all of the estate’s taxes.
Such an arrangement is usually no longer required since the federal exemption has climbed to $5.45 million and the doubling of the exemption for the spouses is part of federal law. Therefore, estates with a value as much as $10.9 million can pass without paying federal estate taxes. Estate planning attorneys can often be of assistance in reviewing existing documents and suggesting changes that may be appropriate or necessary.