You created your estate plan to ensure your family’s financial stability after you’re gone and to make certain that your final wishes are respected.
However, estate planning is never a “one-and-done” operation. Life is full of surprises, and it’s a good idea to review your estate plan at the start of every new year just to see if your plans have kept up with any changes. Here are the things you need to check:
Have any major life changes occurred?
Various life events and milestones – from marriage or divorce to a birth or a death in a family – can all necessitate adjustments to an existing estate plan. You should review your beneficiary designations, guardianship arrangements for any dependants and asset distributions.
Have there been any major financial changes?
Take a look at any changes in your income, investments, debts and expenses since you last reviewed your will. Make any necessary adjustments to your estate plan to reflect your current financial status so that your assets are distributed in a way that continues to align with your goals for your family’s future and your legacy.
Have you examined the tax implications of your estate plan?
Tax laws and regulations change all the time, and it can be difficult to stay abreast. It’s always wise to get professional financial guidance about strategies for lowering the tax burden on your estate. These may include gifting, charitable donations or the creation of trusts.
Have you checked the beneficiary designations?
Review the beneficiary designations on your accounts, insurance policies and retirement plans to ensure that they align with your current wishes and family structure. Transfer-on-death deeds and survivorship designations should all align with your goals regarding probate. These can also impact the probate process and the ease with which your beneficiaries can access their inheritances.
Is your end-of-life planning complete?
An estate plan also helps you ensure that your wishes for the end of your life are respected. If you haven’t recently reviewed your living will and medical power of attorney designations, it’s time.
Do you have a digital estate plan in place?
In this day and age, it’s important to update your estate plan to include information for your heirs about the management and transfer of any digital assets, including your email accounts, social media and digital storage.
Remember: An outdated estate plan can actually create more problems than not having one at all. Experienced legal guidance can help you make certain that your plans are clear and correct.