Regularly reviewing your estate plan and transferring the management of assets if and when you are unable to manage them yourself because of disability or death are basic components of estate plan maintenance. This goes for people with $100 or $100 million. Maintaining your estate plan can be simple, explains the article “Auditing Your Estate Plan” appearing in Forbes.
To take more control over your estate, you’ll want to have an estate planning attorney create and review an estate plan to ensure it continues to achieve your goals. To do so, you’ll need to start by defining your estate planning objectives. What are you trying to accomplish?
- Provide for a surviving spouse or family
- Save on income taxes now
- Save on estate and gift taxes later
- Provide for children later
- Bequeath assets to a charity
- Provide for retirement income, and/or
- Protect assets and beneficiaries from creditors.
A review of your estate plan, especially if you haven’t done so in more than three years, will show whether any of your goals have changed. You’ll need to review wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare proxies, beneficiary designation forms, insurance policies and joint accounts.
Preparing for incapacity is just as important as distributing assets. Who should manage your medical, financial and legal affairs? Designating someone, or more than one person, to act on your behalf, and making your wishes clear and enforceable with estate planning documents, will give you and your loved ones security. You are ready, and they will be ready to help you, if something unexpected occurs.
There are a few more steps, if your estate plan needs to be revised:
- Make the plan, based on your goals
- Engage the people, including an estate planning attorney, to execute the plan
- Have a will updated and executed, along with other necessary documents
- Re-title assets as needed and complete any changes to beneficiary designations, and
- Schedule a review of your estate plan every few years and more frequently if there are large changes to tax laws or your life circumstances.
Reference: Forbes (Sep. 23, 2020) “Auditing Your Estate Plan”