While many people are postponing updating their estate planning documents until there is a little more certainty about the next estate tax law effective January 1st, 2013, a person should still continue to update his or her existing estate planning documents. Also, waiting for the Congress to determine how it wants to set the estate tax rate and limitation is an “unknown certainty”. An estate plan is a comprehensive plan that should be reviewed by multiple professional advisers including an attorney that has many years of experience in estate planning practice.
Upon reviewing a person’s estate plan, the estate planner might want to consider reviewing who is entitled to receive the assets in the client’s estate and how that property is best titled to accomplish the desired results of the client. These issues are all addressed to ensure that whoever the person wants to bequest the personal effect to actually receives the item. For example, a person might want to bequest the contents of that person’s bank account to his or her child and drafts a provision in his or her will that does that. However, if the person has listed his or her spouse as the POD (payable on death) beneficiary on the designation form, then the money in the account will transfer directly to his or her spouse and supersede the provision in the will.