Estate Planning Awareness Week takes place the last week of October! Because Estate Planning is made up of multiple documents, it is important to regularly review all the small details of your plan, your finances, and your family’s needs
If you don't know where to start in the check-up of your Estate Plan, follow these tips below:
Beneficiary Designations: For assets such as life insurance and retirement accounts, the beneficiary designation form is an important document. I recommend reviewing beneficiary designations at least every two years. Life can change quickly, and sometimes changing beneficiary designations is the last thing on anyone’s mind. To learn more about the importance of Beneficiary Designations, read my previous article, Why Neglected Beneficiary Designations Cause Many Estate Plans to Fail.
Evaluate Any New Assets: Have you made any real estate transactions such as a new house, farmland, rental properties, or vacation homes since you created your Estate Plan? Have you inherited or purchased a new car, boat, jewelry, artwork or any other personal items with significant value? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may want to review your Estate Plan to ensure your new real estate avoids probate and your personal property is inherited by a specific person. Normally, real estate can avoid probate through a TODI (CLICK HERE to learn more about TODIs). For personal property, you may want to consider adding specific bequests to your Will or Trust.
Your Appointed Decision-Makers: Proper estate planning involves a lot of moving parts and a lot of people. Depending on your Estate Plan, you may have named Executors, Power of Attorneys for Health Care and Property, Successor Trustees, and/or Guardians for your children. Depending upon how long it has been since we first prepared the documents, it is important to review your decisions and make sure that these individuals are still able to act on your behalf if you need them to. Just like your life has gone through changes, these individuals may have had a change in circumstances that make them less able or desirable to serve in these important roles.
Important Information for Trusted Decision Makers: While your estate planning documents appoint individuals to act on your behalf and give them the authority to do so, they sometimes do not contain all of the necessary information to handle your affairs, manage your finances, or make decisions on your behalf.
As you review your estate planning documents, it is also a good idea to compile a “road map” for those you have name as Trustees, Executors, or POAs. Some of the information you may want to consider including is:
Your social security number
Your doctor’s names and contact information
Important 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. My article, What to do if You are Name as an Executor in Someone's Will, is a great resource to share with your trusted decision makers.
Worried that your Estate Plan needs revising? Schedule a Meeting with Us!
Life changes pretty quickly. It is a good idea to regularly review your Estate Planning documents to make sure they reflect any changes that have occurred in your personal life or in the law. This is why I find the Probate Analysis Diagram (outlining probate, non-probate, and joint assets) that I design for new client's during their initial Ritchie Wealth Planning Session so helpful. Not only is it a great tool to help you decide which Estate Plan best fits your needs, but it is also helpful to assist you in the check-up of your Estate Plan as the years go by.
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. If you are worried that any changes in assets, family composition, or beneficiary designations is putting your Estate Plan at risk, give us a call at 309-662-7000 to schedule an Estate Asset Audit. In this meeting, we can make sure that everything will still work as intended to achieve your goals.
If you do not currently have an estate plan, call us today to schedule a Ritchie Legacy Planning Session. We are here to guide you and help craft a plan that will protect you and your loved ones.
This article is a service of Attorney Chad A. Ritchie and the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. Click Here or call (309) 662-7000 to learn more about what it’s like to meet with the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd. for your initial estate planning meeting. We call this initial Estate Planning meeting a “Ritchie Legacy Planning Session”.
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