The Only Constant in Life is Change

When Circumstances Change, So Should Your Estate Plan

 

Change Ahead photoYour estate plan was written to reflect your situation at a specific point in time –  and – as we all know – our lives continually change, unfolding in ways we might not have anticipated. Just like you meet with your doctor, financial advisor, or CPA on a regular basis, you need to meet with us on a regular basis as well.
In this post, we:

  • Identify and provide examples of life changes which typically trigger a need to update your plan
  • Examine how often you should “check in” with our office

The goal?  To make sure that your estate plan achieves your goals and works for your family.

 

Update Your Estate Plan if Any of These 6 Circumstances Apply to You

  1. Marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse
  2. Changes in financial status – good or bad
  3. The launch or wind down of a business
  4. Birth, adoption, or death of a child or grandchild
  5. Change in personal or family circumstances – including the need to replace trustees, address disabilities or addictions, moving to a new state, and more
  6. Change in your goals – such as changing amounts of inheritances, adding or removing a charity, and more

It’s not just changes in your life you need to think about – Congress, the courts, and the legislatures are constantly changing the rulebook. If you haven’t had your will, trust, or estate plan reviewed since 2012 or if any of these 6 circumstances apply to you, it is essential to contact us, so we can get you back on track.

Examples of When You Should Update Your Trust

To illustrate when a revocable trust should be updated, let’s take a look at the Thomas family:  Jim and Carol have been married for 20 years and have three grown children. Several years ago, they created a trust to provide for themselves and their children.
However, since that time, their family has gone through many changes – some good and some not so good. Jim and Carol are considering updating their estate plan to reflect changes in their family’s circumstances. Here’s a look at their circumstances and how they may affect their estate plan:

  • Divorce. Their eldest son has filed for a divorce from his wife. Jim and Carol need to update their revocable trust to exclude the soon to be ex-wife as an intended beneficiary.

 

  • Changes in financial status. Carol’s aunt passed away and left her a great deal of money. Jim and Carol need to determine how this inheritance will affect their current plan and future estate tax liability.

 

  • Birth. Their youngest child recently announced that she and her husband are Change Ahead photoexpecting their first child. Jim and Carol need to update their trust in order to provide for the child.

 

  • Changes in personal circumstances. Their middle son was recently diagnosed with a severe disability and can no longer work. He is eligible for government disability benefits, but receiving traditional trust income would disqualify him. Jim and Carol need to convert their son’s current trust into a special needs trust so the government does not consider that income for qualification purposes.

 

  • Changes in tax law / venue. Jim and Carol moved from Chicago to Miami to beat the cold winters. Since their estate plan will now be subject to Florida (rather than Illinois) law, it’s time to determine if Florida law might provide them with additional benefits.

 

How Often Should You “Check In” On Your Estate Plan?  Change Ahead photo

It is a certainty that your life will change. All manner of life and financial changes make it necessary to “check in” on your estate plan.

We can help you to manage your plan. If it’s been 3 to 5 years – or – you have experienced significant life change since you signed your estate planning documents, call our office now. We’ll help you determine whether your estate plan needs to be updated. Life moves fast and procrastination can harm you and your loved ones. We welcome your call now.

This newsletter is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as written advice about a Federal tax matter. Readers should consult with their own professional advisors to evaluate or pursue tax, accounting, financial, or legal planning strategies.

David Marshall Datz relocates in Provincetown!

New Ad photo at BeksAfter a very successful year in Provincetown at our 1 Winthrop Street location, we are moving to a bigger and better location just steps away at 167 Commercial Street.  Located in a mixed residential and commercial complex directly across the street from Joe Coffee, this new office space will now have 3 offices and 2 conference rooms with views of Provincetown Bay.

We look forward to serving our clients in our new location beginning June 1, 2013.  Stop by and say hello!

David Marshall Datz Opens in Provincetown!

May 2013 – Outdated article.  We have moved to 167 Commercial St.

 

We are pleased to announce that David Marshall Datz, P.C. has now opened a second office in Provincetown, MA.  We’re excited about our new space as we are now able to better serve our clients on Cape Cod and the Islands.   The office is staffed 5 days a week and by appointment.

Located at 1 Winthrop St. in the West End, we are just steps from Commercial Street.  If you’re in the area, stop by, say hello and check out our new space.

Our phone number in Provincetown is 508.487.3900.

Now is a great time to refinance, but is now a great time for you?

With spring upon us as Massachusetts emerges from one of the mildest winters in recent years, I have thought about how great the incentive has been the last several months to get up early and out onto the streets of Boston for a morning run.  Similarly, when the question comes up whether to refinance in today’s real estate market, the incentive to do so is greater than it has been in years with mortgage rates at historic lows.

But, unlike the decision of whether to step out for a jog on a mild, albeit chilly, winter morning or sleep in an extra hour, the decision to refinance requires that you take a close look at – and evaluate – your goals and circumstances, the terms of your current loan, and – if refinancing looks possible – find the best lender for your situation.

For example, a friend of mine called me the other day and asked, “David, what’s all this chatter about refinancing now?  I just did it a couple of years ago.  Should I refinance again?”  We talked for a bit about the particulars of his loan for his property in the South End of Boston, and quickly came to the conclusion that he wouldn’t really benefit from a refinance at this time.  He already had a good, low rate fixed for 30 years.  I didn’t think he could get a lower rate that would be worth the closing costs to refinance.

However, when he mentioned his second home in Provincetown, refinancing that home made perfect sense given the particulars of his current loan on the property.

His current mortgage on his second home happened to be a 5 year ARM at a rate higher than current 30 year fixed rates.  Given he has no intention of selling his property in Provincetown for many years, he would benefit from refinancing with a lower interest rate fixed for 30 years.

Though interest rates are low now, and it DOES make sense for many people to refinance and possibly lock-in with a long-term fixed interest rate, there are additional variables you need to be aware of.

Jean Chatzky, financial editor for NBC’s Today Show, suggests you should consider refinancing if:

  1. Your interest rate is about 0.75 -1% above current rates.
  2. Your credit score is higher than 720.  A good number, but I think as long as you don’t have any late payments on your current loan, we may be able to find you a lender that can accept a lower score if you’re willing to pay a slightly higher rate.
  3. You have greater than 20% equity in your property.  Although this definitely helps, don’t think this will shut you out from getting approved, especially if your property is worth more than a 500K and located in Boston or Provincetown.

Ms. Chatzky also suggests it is a good time to lock in these rates with a long-term fixed rate mortgage rather than going with adjustable rate loans.

While I generally agree with Ms. Chatzky’s suggestions, the decision to refinance – and whether to go with a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage – ultimately depends on your goals and circumstances.

Given all these variables, some lenders are better for different people.  As real estate attorneys, my team and I work with many lenders on a daily basis.  We know the requirements of each lender.  And we help our clients find the best fit without needing to contact the lender themselves.

So if you’re thinking about whether now is the time to refinance a property you own, and you want to bounce some ideas around, email me at david@datzlawoffices.com or call me at 617-357-9333, and let’s talk about your options and whether the time is right for you.

David M. Datz