Many people in Minnesota work hard to draw up their estate plans. They think long about the way they want to divide their assets and work with lawyers to draft, complete and execute the necessary documents. Still, even after signing off on wills, trusts and powers of attorney, there are some important follow-up steps that estate owners can take to make sure their plans are protected.
One of the most important steps toward making sure an estate is correctly organized is to update and verify the beneficiaries of transfer-on-death accounts like life insurance policies and retirement funds. These assets are transferred directly, without going through probate. In many cases, they can be some of the more valuable assets in an estate, and the overall estate plan can hinge on their correct transfer. Therefore, leaving old beneficiaries in place can be a disaster for the plan as a whole and can even have negative tax consequences. The account owner will need to contact the insurance company or account manager to make sure that the beneficiaries are accurate and up to date.
In addition, even a carefully made estate plan can fail if the beneficiaries don’t know about the plan. Estate planning can be an emotional topic, but it’s important for family members to have a clear discussion long before the testator passes away. Family members also need to know where to find key documents like wills and trusts when they become necessary.
There are a number of other factors to consider, including ensuring that trusts are funded and that the right executor has been chosen for the will. An estate planning attorney can provide advice and guidance while drawing up key estate documents.