An estate plan is not a one-and-done proposition. It should be treated as a living thing, one that must be tended to as the circumstances around it change. Many experts recommend reviewing an estate plan regularly, as well as after significant life events. This helps ensure your plan is still relevant and prevents complications that can negatively affect loved ones down the line.
When reviewing your estate plan, where should you start? Here are five questions to consider.
Are my goals the same?
The composition of an estate plan should be dictated by your goals. Do you want to avoid probate? Are there high-value assets you want to protect and pass down? Are there loved ones you want to support financially while minimizing tax obligations?
As you begin reviewing your estate plan, see if your motivations remain the same or have changed.
Have there been any significant family events?
Families are not static. As years pass, the makeup and dynamics may shift dramatically. A birth or wedding. An unexpected tragedy. A familial relationship that has been rekindled or deteriorated. These events may require a significant alteration to your estate plan, as you fully account for the new situation.
It is particularly important to ensure your advance directives reflect these changes as well.
Have my assets or income changed?
Finances are a crucial piece of estate planning, and a big change to your assets or income – either up or down – may have unexpected consequences. You will want to:
- Decide what to do with new assets
- Determine what protection, if any, is most beneficial
- Ensure you have enough funds to fulfill your wishes and cover costs
- Reassess potential tax obligations and consider reduction strategies
Are my beneficiary designations accurate?
Beneficiary designations are often overlooked. This can be problematic. The name listed as the beneficiary on an account overrides whatever might be in a will. Review these accounts to ensure your designated beneficiary is up to date and reflects your wishes.
Have I accounted for all of my digital assets?
These days, many valuable assets are tied at least partially to digital accounts. Be sure to inventory these, providing log-in information and directions for whomever will be taking care of them.