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Sather Financial Group

120 E Constitution St
Victoria, TX 77901

(361) 570-1800


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Estate Planning Review & Checklist 

Although planning for your incapacity or demise is probably quite low on your list of priorities this spring, we will encourage you to visit these topics. Often, we think we will have more time or some final warning that its time to get your affairs in order. This is not the movies and you need to be prepared—well ahead of time. Here are a few issues to visit:


Recent changes in state and federal estate-tax rules may mean your will is now outdated.

As such, now is a good time to revise your will and estate plan. On December 17th 2010, President Obama Signed H.R. 4853, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, into law.  This legislation increased the federal estate tax for two years at a tax rate of 35% and the federal estate-tax exemption was set at $5 million per person. What's more, some states have different estate-tax exemptions. But many wills don't take into account possible changes in federal and state estate-tax rules.

Check with a lawyer (preferably one who is Board Certified in Estate Planning & Probate Law) to make sure the language in your estate plan still applies with the new exemptions. If some plans aren't adjusted you could inadvertently leave little to your spouse or face an unexpected state tax hit.

Many people's wills also don't reflect their current inheritance wishes because of a major life change. And if a bank or trust company is the executor of your estate, you might have a new executor due to consolidation in the banking industry. Make sure you trust that executor's judgment.

Beneficiary or Transfer On Death Designations

Every IRA, 401(k), pension, life insurance policy, annuity etc. has an opportunity for you to name a beneficiary of that account. It is important to understand that these beneficiary designations supercede the language in your will.

Assume your will states that your IRA assets are to go to your children. If you have named your estate as your IRA beneficiary, your IRA assets will ultimately pass to your children, but not until you pay unnecessary immediate income tax on the full amount in the IRA. By simply coordinating your primary and contingent beneficiary designations with the wishes in your will you can avoid these problems and potentially avoid immediate taxation upon your death.

The same concerns arise with designations like Pay-On-Death, Transfer-On-Death and Joint With Rights Of Survivorship on different accounts. These also need to be properly coordinated with your will and final wishes.


This year the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion is now $13,000 per year per person. That means that you can give $13,000 to any person without any gift taxes being assessed against that gift.

In addition to the $13,000 annual gift tax exclusion an individual can give away a total Lifetime Gift of $5 million, which is also free of gift taxes. In both of these instances, these gifts can remove assets from your estate when evaluating estate tax consequences.

Other items which may indicate you need to address your estate plan

Specific Bequests
__ I would like to make specific bequests to individuals not currently included in my plans-or delete the names of one or more persons

(or charities) currently named.

__ I would like to change the amounts of some of the bequests I have made.

Changes in Valuation

__ The value of my estate has changed more than 20 percent in the last two years.

__ I have, or will, receive a substantial inheritance soon.

__ I have, or will, be the beneficiary of a trust soon.


Special Provisions for Children
__ My health (my spouse's or children's health) has deteriorated substantially in the last year.

__ My heirs may not be capable of handling an inheritance.

Newly Born or Adopted Children

__ A child (grandchild) has been born (or adopted) since our last review.

Handicapped or Incompetent Children

__ A child (grandchild or other dependent) has become handicapped or seriously injured since our last review.

Status of Family Marriages

__ A member of the family has become married, divorced or separated since our last review.

__ I have, or will have, been married and are there children from a previous marriage.

Cancellation of Loans to Children and Equalization of Inheritance

__ I would like to discharge an obligation owed to me by canceling the loan in my will.

__ I would like to provide a clause to equalize any gifts made in the past (or to be made in the future) to certain children (grandchildren).

Life Insurance

__ I have added (or dropped) more than $50,000 of life insurance since our last review.

__ I have changed (or would like to change) a beneficiary designation on an existing policy or annuity.

__ I feel I may need more life insurance, but I don't know how much to purchase or what type to consider.

Gifts to Minors

__ I would like to make substantial gifts to minor children (grandchildren).

Gifts to Charities

__ I would like to add (delete) one or more charitable beneficiaries.

__ I would like to change the amount of my bequest to certain charities.

Business Interests

__ I have entered into a stock (or partnership) buy-sell agreement since our last review.

__ I have bought or sold a business since our last review.

__ My business situation has changed significantly since our last review.

Guardians, Executors, and Trustees

__ I would like to name a particular person as advisor to my executor and trustees.

__ I would like to reconsider the designation of the guardians, executors, and trustees I have named.


__ Have you reviewed your Durable Power of Attorney document recently (within the last three years)?

__ Have you reviewed your Durable Power of Health Care document recently (within the last three years)?

__ Have you reviewed your Directive To Physicians document recently (within the last three years)?

__ Are you, or do you anticipate, being sued?

__ Are you currently engaged in a lawsuit?

__ Have you recently retired or will you soon?

__ I would like to know how the latest tax law affects my estate plan.

__ I would like to review my estate plans for the following reasons. __________________________

As with any of these issues, it is best to properly coordinate these decisions with your Board Certified Probate and Estate Planning Attorney, Certified Public Accountant and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.