Estate planning is not a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. Your family dynamics change, your assets change, the laws change — and if your plan doesn’t change, too, your family gets caught holding the bag. The people you love most end up bearing the brunt of your failure to act.
Conducting a proper review of your estate plan will help identify the potential need to update your plan because of:
Life transitions: Have any babies been born, loved ones died, beneficiaries gotten married or divorced? If so, you must revisit your plan.
Changes in the law: Changes in federal and state tax laws may require updates to your healthcare and financial powers of attorney. State regulations can also be revised to open up new wealth planning strategies that should be a part of your estate plan.
Changes in assets: Has your net worth gone up or down? Have you invested in any new assets such as a businesses or real estate? Have you opened new bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, or anything similar? If so, your plan needs to be revisited. And the spreadsheet of assets you have for your family (you DO have one, right?) needs updating.
Funding of assets and beneficiary designations: One of the most common mistakes people make is not properly completing the transfer of assets into a trust within their estate plan. Another common error is having beneficiary designations that are inconsistent with the distribution language in the estate plan. We recommend a review of those matters at annually.
Remember, if you do not review your plan and update it regularly, it’s your family who will have to deal with the consequences.
If you have not had your estate plan reviewed within the last three years (or if you have not created a plan at all) we really should talk. Call my office today. We normally charge $950 for an Estate Plan Checkup but if you are one of the first two callers to mention this article, we’ll waive that fee. Call 626.355.4000 today and mention this article.