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Wrap up your year with a review of your estate plan

It's hard to believe that a new year will arrive in just two months. Before you dive into the holidays that fill up these last days of 2017, take a little time to review this checklist:

  • Has there been a change in your immediate family? I.e. a marriage, divorce, birth or death. The birth of a grandchild or the death of a sibling can trigger important changes to the structure of your distribution plan.
  • Will upcoming tax law changes affect the way you want your plan to work for yourself and for your family? Probate, estate and administration rules and regulations can also have an impact on your tax planning.
  • Are your appointed executors, trustees or other fiduciaries still up to the task of taking on their roles when the time comes? Age, illness or a move to another part of the country may necessitate a new appointee.
  • Do you want to change whom you have appointed as your power of attorney? Are the powers you are granting too broad or too narrow? Will he or she be able to do what needs to be done regarding your financial needs?
  • Is your advance directive -- the document that outlines your wishes regarding your medical treatment and health care decisions -- up to date? Do you still feel the same about resuscitation as you did when you last created one?
  • Are your assets titled in a way that is most beneficial to you and to your heirs? Did you purchase a new home? Did a co-owner pass away leaving you as the sole owner of an investment property? Is your real estate properly transferred into the name of your trust?
  • Are you still satisfied with the way your estate will be distributed to your beneficiaries after you are gone? If you have changed your mind about how you want assets divided or if you want to provide for a newly discovered charity, those changes must be documented.
  • When did you last review your beneficiary designations? Insurance policies, pension plans and certain retirement accounts will pass to your named beneficiaries no matter what you have written in your estate planning documents.

Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today

If a change has occurred or is needed, or you are not sure if your estate plan is structured correctly, set up a meeting with your estate planning attorney now. The busyness of the season will soon arrive and, before you know it, 2018 will be here. Be ready for it, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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