Spring cleaning applies to our estates too. As we approach Spring, now more than ever is a great time to revisit, review, and perhaps revise your estate plan.
Just like spring cleaning a home or cabin, refreshing and organizing our planning documents helps others help us.
Even more so, it offers assurance to our children and grandchildren. So, let’s take a look at a checklist.
Spring Cleaning Checklist
A spring clean-up checklist from an estate planning perspective looks something like this:
- Revisit and Review. As we age, our plans and needs change. Take 15 minutes and reflect on your current plan, wishes, and circumstances.
- Beneficiary Designations. Review every beneficiary designation. This includes any forms associated with bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, motor vehicles, and other assets to ensure they are up-to-date and aligned with estate planning goals. Even more so, if you do not have a hard copy of each form, you have a problem that needs immediate attention.
- Tax Changes. Evaluate any (Federal and State) changes in tax laws that may negatively impact an estate plan. Then, consider necessary adjustments to account for such matters.
- Ancillary Documents. Review and update powers of attorney documents (both financial and HIPAA). Also, look at your healthcare directives to ensure wishes are being accurately represented. Have you made any changes based on our experiences from COVID-19? Certainly being locked behind glass doors isn’t appealing for you or your loved ones.
- Family Dynamics. Consider any changes to your family, that may impact an estate plan, such as the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, substance abuse issues, and or mental impairments.
- Trust Funding. Incorrectly funded trusts is a chronic problem or flaw with many estate plans. Spring is the perfect time to readdress whether an asset was included or purposely excluded from a trust. If you do not know, this issue must be addressed.
- Lost and Found. Organize estate planning documents and ensure loved ones know where to find them in case of an emergency. For those with a safe deposit box, there is added risk.
All this said, spring cleanup requires action. Thus, start right now.
Estate Attorney Jasper Berg