This year will be coming to an end before we know it. Below is a list of common estate plan updates you can check off your financial to-do list before the new year.
1. Think about your legacy
This is the first step in setting up your estate plan. For many people, thinking about legacy and your own mortality can be very difficult. These questions can help you jump start your estate planning:
- How will those who rely on you be provided for?
- Do you have a will, or is your will current?
- Where do you want your money to go after you are gone? Family, non-profits?
2. Meet with your advisors and attorney
Meeting with your family’s attorney is obviously important in building your estate plan, but don’t forget about your financial advisor. As your attorney helps cross the t’s and dot the i’s in your estate documents, your advisor will help you make sure your financial plans carry over into your estate plan.
3. Talk to your children or heirs about your wishes
When talking to your family about your legacy and estate plan, it is usually best to start with the basics instead of giving them a lot of information all at once. Remember, this process can be emotional and overwhelming for them, too. Starting with what is in your will or who will be your power of attorney can be a good opener to sharing your estate plan with those closest to you.
4. Update your documents, if needed
Documents should be reviewed every year to make sure what you have written is still what you wish to occur. Even if you do not feel that anything has changed, tax laws or other laws that might govern your estate may have changed. Other events, such as moving to another state, changes to family dynamics, or changes to assets and liabilities could also affect your plan. If your documents are over three years old, have your attorney review them to make sure they still adequately reflect your wishes.
5. Review your retirement, investment, and trust accounts
Checking up on your financial accounts can help you gauge how well they fit into your estate plan. When updating your plan, it is important to make sure your retirement, investment, or other accounts continue to fulfill your financial needs. Even if your plan does not require updates, reviewing your accounts can better prepare you for changes that you might make in the future. These accounts should help preserve your assets, protect your current income, and provide for your loved ones. An annual review ensures you are adequately accounting for them in your estate plan.
Thinking about and reviewing your estate plan may seem dreadful, but by staying on top of this process, you can achieve peace of mind for you and your heirs.
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