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Estate Planning Awareness Week – Things to Review

Estate Planning

Because estate planning is a comprehensive plan and not just a single document, it is important to regularly review all aspects of your plan, your finances, and your family’s needs.

Things to Review

Beneficiary Designations: The beneficiary designation form is crucial for assets such as life insurance and retirement accounts. Improper information on these documents could mean that the wrong person could end up with the asset. It is smart to review these documents on a regular basis to ensure they are accurate. Life can change quickly – if the wrong information is on the form, it may be too late. 

Temporary Guardianships: A parent or legal guardian has the right to appoint a temporary guardian for a minor for a limited time in some states. When this happens, the guardian is given the ability to make decisions on the minor’s behalf in the role of a parent. Having this document is helpful if a child may be staying with a relative or close friend for an extended period of time. If you live far away from family, a trusted friend or neighbor having temporary guardianship may also be a good idea. It’s important to note this designation is only good for a short period of time – up to 12 months in some states. 

Ensuring proper ownership (“title”) on property: If you have a trust as part of an estate plan, you will want to make sure the assets that the trust should own have been retitled in the trust’s name or are able to transfer to the trust upon your death. Checking beneficiary designations, account statement, and other relevant documents that are associate with assets is the best way to check on this. If your trust has not properly been funded, the assets will go through probate, which can cost you financially and take a lot of additional time. We can help if you are unsure of how this is currently set up. 

You Appointment Decision-Makers: Doing estate planning the right way involves a lot of pieces coming together. It is likely that you have named a Successor Trustee in your trust, an Attorney-in-Fact (“agent”) under your Financial Power of Attorney, and a Patient Advocate (“proxy” or “healthcare agent”) under your Medical Power of Attorney. It is vital to review the decisions to make sure that the indicated individuals are still able to act on your behalf should it become necessary. Just like anyone else, these individuals may have gone through life changes, so it is important to check up on them and make any relevant changes.

Important Information for Trusted Decision Makers: Estate planning documents do appoint people to act on your behalf and give them the authority to do so, but they sometimes do not contain the necessary information to allow them to handle your affairs, manage finances, or make decisions. Developing a “road map” for you fiduciaries is a good idea. Some of the relevant information that you may want to include in this includes: 

● Your social security number

● Your doctor’s names and contact information

● Your pertinent medical information, including care providers and medications

● Your professionals’ (accountant, financial advisor, life insurance agent, etc.) names and contact information

● Bank account numbers

● Where to find your important documents

● Contact information, dates of birth, and social security numbers for your children

● Information regarding your pets

By compiling this information and making it accessible to your trusted decision-makers, you can help them be better prepared to carry out their roles.

Schedule a Meeting with Us

Life can change quickly. Reviewing your estate planning documents to ensure that they reflect your current situation is crucial. It may be beneficial to schedule a time for us to review your documents along with you. Any marriages, divorces, deaths, births, or other major life events may have impacted your estate plan – these changes should be reflected on your documentation.

We are here to offer peace of mind to you and your family while you are alive and to your loved ones after you have passed. Give us a call so we can make sure that everything will still work as intended to achieve your goals. If you do not currently have an estate plan, we are here to guide you and help craft a plan that will protect you and your loved ones.

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