Setting up your estate planning documents is not a "one-and-done" event. Even if you are not the type to make New Year's resolutions, you probably still have a "To Do" list for the year. If a review of your existing estate plan is not on that list, it should be.
Better safe than sorry
Review this list of questions before deciding whether you can or should put off reviewing your estate plan for later this year:
- Fiduciaries: Are the executors and trustees you designated in your estate planning documents still considered by you to be the best people for the job when the time comes?
- Beneficiaries: Have there been additions or subtractions to your family, i.e. a marriage, divorce, death or birth? Have you had second thoughts about providing for certain charities or special friends? Are the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts, insurance policies and other accounts still accurate?
- Legalities: Does your plan still comply with existing state and federal rules and regulations? Laws may have changed since you first drafted your will, trust and other estate planning documents. This can lead to unintended consequences.
- Taxes:How will the new tax laws affect you? They may necessitate changes in your estate plan as well as your investment plans.
- Financial POA: Do you still feel the same level of trust for the person you designated as your power of attorney for financial matters? Will someone else in the family be better equipped to handle your assets and decisions about properties, business interests and investments?
- Advance directives: Is the person you designated in your health care documents still able to manage your health care decisions should you no longer be able to make them yourself? If you have changed your mind about some health care issues, are those changes committed to writing? Does your designee know your new preferences?
- Long-term care: Nursing home care expenses can reach $10,000 per month in Denver. Do you have a long-term care plan in place should you need financial help covering costs?
- New acquisitions: If you have purchased a new property, has it been titled properly for your estate planning goals? This may include putting it in the name of your trust or in the sole name of your spouse or partner.
Estate planning is not a Do-It-Yourself project
Pull out your estate planning documents today, and check the date you signed them. If it has been a few years, schedule an appointment to review them with an estate planning professional. Alternatively, if a milestone has been reached by you or your family - such as a marriage, divorce, retirement or sale of a business, the date may not matter.
It doesn't take much time or effort to make revisions to your plan. Resolve today to take action before the year gets away from you.