How long has it been since you last updated your estate plan? If you’re like many of us, the last time you reviewed your will and/or estate plan was when it was originally signed in your attorney’s office.
When was that? 10 years ago? 20 years ago? Longer than that? Perhaps some things have changed in your life such as:
- Your young children are adults
- You have grandchildren
- You have retired
- You have moved to another state
- Your marital status has changed
- Your financial situation has changed
- Your attorney or accountant are no longer practicing
This may be a good time to review your entire estate plan. So, let’s talk about a stress-free process.
First of all, before you do anything else, you need to gather your important documents – such as a will, a living will, any insurance policies, trusts, and the like – and put them all together in one secure place.
Once you’ve gathered all of this paperwork, it’s time to go through the checklist we have provided.
Here are some questions you need to address:
- Do you have an updated will?
- Have you executed a living will?
- Do you have a living trust to avoid probate?
- If you have young children do you have a guardian(s) for them?
- Are you sure you have the appropriate insurance and correct coverages for your situation?
- If you and/or your spouse are in a higher income bracket, are you taking advantage of the gift tax exclusion? ($15,000 per child, per year, per person)
- If you own a thriving business do you have a succession plan?
- And if you are in business with partners, do you have a buy/sell agreement in place?
Oftentimes people have multiple advisors taking care of different aspects of their lives – such as an attorney, a tax accountant, a stock broker, etc. – however, rarely do they ever communicate with each other to discuss your situation and therefore can’t advise you of the best approach to take for your estate plan.
A good estate plan is important for the physical and emotional wellbeing of your survivors. Planning is essential to preserving and distributing assets that you have worked all your life to accumulate. Having a proper estate plan can minimize estate and income taxes as well as other administrative expenses after your passing.
If you are not sure how to proceed, and in order to facilitate this process, you should seek the help of a trusted financial advisor who is also a Fiduciary.
A Fiduciary is someone you appoint to take legal control over your assets for the benefit of your spouse, children or other beneficiaries. It is the Fiduciary’s responsibility and obligation to act in the beneficiary’s best interest. I am a Fiduciary and can help you set up your estate plan and advise you on the best approach if you would like some guidance.
At Simon Financial Group we encourage clients to review their estate plans every so often due to changing tax laws and major life events, such as a birth, marriage, divorce, or death. At the very least, consider reviewing your estate plan every 3 to 5 years, to help ensure compliance with current laws and your current situation.
Keep in mind, the estate planning process is more of a financial process vs. a legal process. Your advisor would need to see ownership and beneficiary arrangements so there’s coordination with your legal documents. In addition, often times gifting and other techniques are discussed and some financial modeling should be done so we can determine financial independence.
To be effective and worry-free, your estate plan should evolve as your life circumstances do so that you as well as your family are protected and financially secure.
I would be happy to discuss any of this on a Zoom call with you. You can set up a convenient time through my calendar app. I look forward to hearing from you.