What should you look for in an estate plan review?
You should review your estate plan regularly to make sure that your beneficiaries are still accurate and your assets are still protected.
After you have done the hard work of creating an estate plan, you probably put the estate planning documents into a safe location and thought you could forget about them. However, your estate plan was designed to carry out your wishes at a particular time and place in your life. As life goes on, those circumstances change – and your estate plan needs to change, as well. You should review some key areas of your estate plan periodically to ensure that it still meets your needs.
Beneficiaries and legal roles
As part of your estate planning process, you designated people to act in various roles such as executor, power of attorney or health care power of attorney. It is important to make sure that these people are still willing and able to act in the capacities you want them to. People may have passed away or moved out of the area, so it may be necessary to name new people to fill these roles.
It is also crucial to review your beneficiaries in your will and the beneficiaries named on non-probate assets such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts to make sure that these are the people you still want to inherit your assets. Events such as birth of children, death of loved ones, marriage or divorce may make you want to change the beneficiaries you named when you first made your estate plan.
You should look at the assets in your estate plan, asking a variety of questions. Are the assets with titles properly titled so that they pass to heirs in the manner you wish? Are there changes in the tax laws that could have implications for the way you have left your assets to heirs? Is the amount of life insurance you have still appropriate for your needs and lifestyle?
Many people include directions about medical care they wish to receive in the event that they are incapacitated and cannot voice their wishes. If you have included an advanced health care directive, make sure that it still expresses your views on the measures you wish doctors to take such as using ventilators, tube feeding, resuscitation and surgical procedures.
When you review your estate plan, you should organize it so that it is easy for others to access the information. You should make a list of the documents in your estate plan and where they are stored, as well as a list of accounts and any professionals who have worked on those accounts. Including a net worth statement that lists all assets is also helpful.
If it has been a while since you created your estate plan, consult a seasoned estate planning attorney who can help you make a thorough review of your estate plan and make sure it still expresses your wishes.
Keywords: estate planning; will; trust