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Why tax season is a great time to make (or update) your estate plan

February 23, 2024 | 4 min read

With Tax Day fast approaching, you might be gathering documents and tallying receipts. While you’re still in tax mode, adding estate planning to the mix could bring peace of mind that lasts long after tax season has ended. 

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is essentially the process of drafting legal documents that serve as instructions for how your assets should be handled when you’re no longer able to make decisions about them.

Along with ensuring your family has instructions for managing your estate after your death, an estate plan can include health care directives while you’re still living. You can utilize a living will, health care power of attorney or mental health care power of attorney to authorize a loved one to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Amid the flurry of tax forms and figures, it might be tempting to forgo long-term planning in favor of more immediate financial matters. But this tax season can provide the opportunity to create a legacy and safeguard the financial well-being of your loved ones.

Here are four reasons tax season is a great time for estate planning.

1.    You’re already taking a deep dive into your finances.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “… but in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” They have an important impact on your legacy, so why not make Benjamin proud and take care of both at once?

When preparing your tax paperwork, you probably have forms handy related to your mortgage, investments and more. These documents can help you organize a list of assets that serve as the foundation of an estate plan. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to put copies of relevant documents in a physical or electronic file for later.

2.    Changes in tax documents may require changes to an existing estate plan.

Major life events like marriage, having kids or buying a home typically result in changes to your tax situation. Such events may also be a good time to review your beneficiary designations and decide if you want to revise your current estate plan. 

For example, if you got married during the tax year, you can no longer select a tax filing status of single. You might also want to add your new spouse as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy. Or if you purchased a home, you may be eligible for new tax deductions. With the long-term financial implications of buying a home top-of-mind, it can be a reminder to include the property in your will or trust.

Creating or updating your estate plan can save your loved ones from unnecessary disagreements or possible legal action. 

3.    It's as important as filing taxes.

Just like missing a tax filing deadline, delaying estate planning could be costly. Without clear instructions about the distribution of your assets, your estate may go through a lengthy probate process where a judge makes decisions about who gets what. That could come with court costs and legal fees, which vary depending on the complexity of the estate. 

4.    Your tax refund could go toward your estate plan.

Last, but certainly not least: If you’re anticipating getting a tax refund, that’s just one more reason to keep the momentum going by creating a will or trust. Your taxes will be done, and you’ll have extra money to put toward your estate plan. Win-win!

Remember, you don’t need to be a certain age or have achieved a certain income level to benefit from an estate plan. Tax season is a great time to safeguard what’s yours regardless of your age or net worth.

Document your wishes and protect your assets for your loved ones with the help of an experienced estate planning specialist. Our Wills & Trusts team can draft legal documents based on your needs and goals. Learn more when you schedule an appointment or register for a free, educational workshop today!

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The material presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial, investment or legal advice. Desert Financial and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your personal tax, legal and accounting advisors for advice related to your specific tax situation. 


Document preparation services are offered through Desert Financial Credit Union; an Arizona Supreme Court Certified Legal Document Preparation Business Entity (CLDP #81024). Legal document preparation services are not insured by the NCUA, have no credit union guarantee and do not provide legal advice.

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