New & Notable Developments from

The Law Office of James A. Hyatt

This page of our website is designed to bring current news and information about us and about the important developments in areas that affect planning we do for our clients at The Law Office of James A. Hyatt.

The Importance of Keeping Your Estate Plan Up To Date

Your estate plan is not something you can ever “finish.”  Your circumstances may change in the future, as well as tax laws or other laws that may affect your estate plan, and often these changes can come with both opportunities and pitfalls.  It is best if your estate plan is reviewed regularly and updated to maintain your goals and address any changes in the law.  Here are some circumstances in which you should consider a review and update of your estate plan:

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Will Your Estate Pass to Your Spouse?

Many of our prospective clients who are married come into our office and believe that upon one spouse’s death, all of their assets will automatically be transferred to the surviving spouse.  Though this may be true in some situations, it may not be true in all.  How assets are transferred upon the owner’s death really depends on how the assets are titled.

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Estate Planning For Parents of Young Children

Among the younger generation, estate planning is sometimes thought of as something only rich old people need to be concerned with.  Many parents of young children haven’t given much thought to their estate plan.  They may not think they have an “estate” to plan for.

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2020 Vision – Estate Planning in a New Environment

Estate Planning documents, including Wills and Revocable Living Trusts, need to be updated from time to time given changes in a client’s personal life, asset acquirement and changes in tax laws. Although it would be nice if the documents we draft could withstand the tests of time, changes in the tax laws sometimes require us to re-evaluate the appropriateness of our client’s documents and, where necessary, make changes.

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Estate Planning Implications of the SECURE Act

The SECURE Act (“Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement”) was enacted on December 20, 2019 and will significantly affect many of our clients with retirement plans, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s and 403(b)s.

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Planning For Incapacity

Estate Planning is not only about what happens if you die. It’s also about planning for what happens if you are incapacitated. That is, what happens if due to a stroke, serious injury or illness you are unable to make decisions for yourself?

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Do I Still Need A Living Trust?

Most of my clients have a Revocable Living Trust as the centerpiece of their estate plan.  For many of them, a major reason they created the trust may have been the significant estate tax benefits it provided.  But as you may have heard, recent tax law changes have essentially eliminated the danger of an estate tax for more than 99% of us.  Thus, for most of my clients the Living Trust no longer provides any estate tax benefits.  So it is reasonable for folks to wonder if their Living Trust now serves any beneficial purpose and to ask:  “Do I still need a Living Trust?”

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Prepare Your Heirs

So, you have succeeded in putting your estate plan together – you have your Will, Trust, Powers of Attorney, and Medical Directives in place.  The beneficiary designations for your life insurance policies and retirement accounts are in place.  You review your estate plan periodically to make sure it continues to reflect your wishes and accomplish your goals.  All the legal documents necessary to implement your estate plan are complete.  But there is one further step you can take to make things easier for your loved ones if you die – prepare them for the eventuality.

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