Happy New Year! Very often the New Year brings all sorts of ‘changes’ for individuals, particularly after having spent any time with family members and friends over the holiday season. Here is a quick list of five resolutions to consider for your estate plan.
- Is it time to update your plan? If a plan is in place, when was the last time you reviewed it? Is it simply a binder of documents you received several year ago when you finished the estate planning process and you haven’t looked at since? Have circumstances changed that are not captured in the documents? Who are the fiduciaries (i.e., executor, trustee, healthcare power of attorney, financial power of attorney, guardian, etc.) listed? Are the fiduciaries still capable of serving? Does the plan do what you want it to do? There have been a lot of changes to estate tax laws in recent years, is your plan from before 2013? In some cases, does ‘updating’ your plan, actually mean finishing the process? Or does it mean starting the process so that your theoretical plan is memorialized?
- Are there beneficiary designations? When was the last time you checked beneficiary designations on life insurance, retirement accounts (i.e., 401(k), IRAs, 403(b), 457, etc.) and annuities? What about any payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) designations you have on bank accounts or brokerage accounts…do those designations reflect your wishes? For government employees, are beneficiary designations up-to-date on your Federal, state or local benefits?
- Families come in all shapes and sizes -Family Fiduciaries. Are you named as a fiduciary in any family member’s or friend’s plan? Have you touched base with that person recently to see how they are doing both health-wise and financially? Do you understand what your role is as the fiduciary? Do you know the family member’s or friend’s goals and objectives? Are you able to still serve, that is, are you distracted by a health event or financial crisis and perhaps you should not take the role? Have you considered options for a care manager if you are caring for an elderly family member or friend? How about looking at assisted living or skilled nursing or home health aides, if the circumstances warrant such considerations?
- Are you charitably inclined? Do you have a charitable giving plan for this year? For future years? For at your death? Have you researched your options including direct giving, donor advised funds, private foundations and/or charitable trusts? Is there a planned gift that you would like to consider? Is now the time to investigate annual giving?
- Succession planning occurs at many levels. Who will be in charge of any business whether it is a limited liability company, partnership or corporation? Are shareholders’ agreements and operating agreements up-to-date? And beyond a business interest, who will be in charge of your pets? Are there monies set aside for their care? What about digital assets? Have you ensured a smooth transition of online accounts to a successor? What about your tangible personal property? Is there an inventory? Appraisals? Designated recipients?
True, there are a lot of questions and not a lot of answers here, but that is the planning process. One has to begin with the questions to reach the answers. Working with a professional advisor can both provide you with the guidance needed to navigate these questions and ensure that you complete the process. #planyourjourney #lifeplanning #legacyplanning #estateplanning @bgnthebgn