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Estate Planning Lessons from 2022

As we embark on a new year, it is important to look back at the previous year and assess whether changes in circumstances require a shift in thinking and planning as we move ahead. In doing so, we learn that there are multiple estate planning lessons from 2022 that both people developing estate plans and their attorneys should be mindful of in the future. If you are interested in developing or updating an estate plan, it is wise to schedule an appointment to speak with a seasoned estate planning attorney soon.

Estate Planning Lessons from 2022

1. Changes in the Requirements for Executing a Valid Will

Many people created estate plans in a hurry during the COVID-19 pandemic, often without the assistance of an attorney. As some of the estate planning documents drafted during the pandemic have come into play, issues have arisen with regard to their validity, and wills that were not properly executed will most likely be deemed invalid.

The pandemic also brought about changes in the manner in which parties can execute wills. For example, Washington law dictates that wills must be in writing and must be signed both by the testator and two or more witnesses. Pursuant to the Uniform Electronic Will Act which went into effect on January 1, 2022, however, electronic signatures are now valid. Notably, the testator and witnesses must still be in one other’s presence during the signing of a will, but a physical presence is not required. Instead, an electronic presence, which includes video conferencing, is suitable.

2. Inflation and Other Financial Changes Impact Estate Plans

In 2022, many people saw a drastic reduction in their income, retirement funds, and assets due to inflation and fluctuations in the stock market. As such, they may need to evaluate and adjust their estate plans. This is particularly true if the value of their holdings or property grows at a slower rate than the rate of inflation, which can devalue the estate.

In some instances, though, the value of the estate will increase due to inflation. This can impact not only the value of the overall estate but also whether the estate meets or exceeds state or federal tax thresholds. It is important, then, for people to keep an eye on the value of their estate, especially if the overall worth is approaching the threshold amount.

People grappling with inflation should consider making beneficiary designations, if possible, so that assets pass directly to beneficiaries rather than becoming part of the estate. This can reduce the value of the estate enough to avoid the threshold. For example, people can generally designate beneficiaries for retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

Confer with a Capable Estate Planning Attorney

With each new year comes an opportunity to reflect on how circumstances changed in the year before and a chance to ensure that your estate plan is thorough and adequately reflects your goals. If you want to find out more about the estate planning lessons from 2022 and how they may impact you personally, you should confer with a capable estate planning attorney. Call Gregorek & Associates at 425-284-3450 or fill out our contact form and we will be in touch to schedule a meeting.

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