So much can happen in a year! Which is why it’s wise to look back at the previous year’s events to see how they may have impacted your estate plan. Remember that you’ll not only need to consider yourself—be sure to think about all the people currently named in your existing estate plans. (Don’t have any estate plans yet? Now’s the time!)
Here’s a list of key things to think about during an annual review of your estate plans.
DID YOU BUY OR SELL MAJOR ASSETS?
One of the most obvious areas to consider is major assets, including homes, other real estate, cars, jewelry, and any savings you have acquired in the past year. If you have obtained or sold any large assets, you’ll need to account for these items in your estate plan.
It’s best to get help in this area, as distributing assets can get complicated, and you don’t want things to go awry after you’re gone. It is absolutely worth it to work with an attorney who has an expansive understanding of the taxation laws and the most strategic methods for planning the dispersal of your assets, ensuring your beneficiaries are not burdened by a loss of income through unnecessary taxation.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOOK A CLOSE LOOK AT YOUR ACCOUNTS?
Did you open or close any accounts in the past year? Be sure each and every one is included in your estate plan to avoid confusion. Don’t forget to double check the beneficiaries listed for all of your accounts and insurance policies; it’s surprising how many people have outdated beneficiaries listed on accounts, leading to assets being distributed in unexpected ways.
WERE THERE ANY BIRTHS OR DEATHS IN YOUR FAMILY?
These are perhaps the most important questions of all to consider when planning for your estate. Do you need to add or update who is listed as a guardian for your children? Are your listed beneficiaries correct?
If you added a child to your family this year, ensure they are promptly included in your estate plan. Similarly, if you lost a loved one this year, you will need to make sure they are no longer listed as a beneficiary. Maintaining and updating these documents are critical to the success of your legacy, and will provide peace of mind to your surviving loved ones.
HAVE YOU MARRIED OR DIVORCED?
With any new union, two estates are combined—and you have another person to think about. Now is the time to review your beneficiaries and make any updates to account for a new partner.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, divorce is a major change that will undoubtedly impact your estate. If you ended a long-term relationship, it’s time to meet with a professional who can help you make appropriate changes to your documents and ensure you are protected.
NOW TIE A STRING AROUND YOUR FINGER, OR…
Create an annual recurring reminder on your calendar to review all of the information in your estate plan so that it’s always up to date. It’s too easy to let a few years slip by. The good news is if you’ve got all your information in one place, it should be easier to do your annual review in the future.
UPDATE YOUR PLAN TODAY (OR GET ONE STARTED!)
If any of the aforementioned changes took place in 2015, it’s time to sit down with a professional who can help you update your plan. Asheville estate planning attorney Chris Craig has considerable estate planning experience and can help ensure your plan grows with you.
As a father, husband, and business owner, Chris Craig knows how important it is to plan for the future. He can relate on a personal level while providing counsel and the necessary tools to help you make educated decisions for yourself and the generations after you.
It’s time to give your loved ones the gift of good planning, so and contact us today.