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Tips to an Annual Review of Your Estate Plan

By: Lauren Jones

You hired an attorney, you went through all the discussions and decisions, you invested in your future, and you obtained an Estate Plan… now what? Estate Planning is not a once in a lifetime event. Your life changes. Perhaps you bought a new house, had more children or grandchildren, opened new accounts, or are no longer on good terms with your trustees. Your Estate Plan needs to be amended to change with you. That does not mean you have to amend your Estate Plan every year, but it does mean you should review it.

If your Estate Plan has been gathering dust on a shelf and you have not looked at it for years, now is the is the perfect time to review!

Here is a quick list of questions to ask yourself:  

1)     Were you able to find your Estate Planning documents? Are they easily accessible to you and your loved ones?

2)     Is the person listed as a Trustee, Personal Representative/Executor, Agent for Power of Attorney, or Agent for Health Care Directive, currently able to manage you or your estate if you were to become incapacitated or pass away? Did you name a backup?

3)     Is the person listed as guardian for your minor child(ren) able to take over if something were to happen to you tomorrow? Did you name a backup?

4)     Are the distributions of your Estate Plan still appropriate based upon the age, maturity, and current situation of your beneficiaries?

5)     Has anything changed with respect to your children since your documents were prepared: have they gotten married or divorced (or are they having legal or creditor problems)? Do you now have grandchildren who are not provided for in your estate plan?

6)     Have any of your named beneficiaries passed away? Are backup beneficiaries named in your will or trust? Do the named beneficiaries reflect your current wishes?

7)     Have you acquired new property (real estate), bank or investment accounts, or other valuable property since your trust was signed? Did you receive an inheritance? Make sure the “title” of such property is in your trust.

8)     Are all your accounts and property titled into the name of the trust, or has the trust been named as a beneficiary of those accounts or property upon your death?

9)     Are the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies up to date?

10) Last, but not least, have you been holding off on getting your Estate Plan started?

If you go through this checklist and see places where items in your trust need to be updated, or you just have some questions about your current plan, contact us to discuss your options going forward. If this reminds you that you need to get your Estate Planning in order, then let us get that process started! Feel free to give us a call to set up a consultation. We look forward hearing from you soon!