With school letting out for the summer, it is time to review the vacation checklists. Growing up, my family did a lot of cross-country travel. We’d spend an enormous amount of time (it seemed to us kids) just packing and getting ready. We just wanted to go already! But of course when we got on the road we appreciated our parents’ careful preparation.
Before you take off on that summer trip, here is a short checklist to review your estate plan to make sure all is in order.
1. Are your Beneficiaries Correct?
Will the people you intend to leave your property and retirement actually receive your property and retirement accounts? If you have changed your mind, or have had a change in your life, like a new spouse or child, you should consult with an attorney to see if your plan needs to be updated. You should also review your life insurance and retirement plan beneficiary designations with your attorney or financial planner.
2. Are the Right People In Charge?
If you created your trust documents while your children were young, your children may be able to step into the successor trustee role now that they are older. Relationships change over time, and the family member that made sense as the successor trustee ten years ago may not make sense now.
3. Is your Trust Funded Correctly?
It is common if you have refinanced your property to find that your house is no longer titled in the trust. You’ll need to make sure that you record a new trust transfer deed. Have you acquired other assets since your trust was created that you haven’t titled in the trust? If you don’t know how to change the title on an asset, there may be instructions provided by your attorney in your trust binder, or you may need to consult with his or her office if you have a question.
4. Is your Medical Directive Old?
Advance Health Care Directives have changed significantly over the last five to ten years. If yours is older than four years old, you should have it updated. Older documents won’t have important language to deal with changes in federal law relating to the doctor’s ability to share information with your designated agent.
5. Are your Documents Organized and Easy to Find?
Your trust documents, life insurance policy statement, retirement plan and other important asset paperwork should be neatly organized so that your successor trustee won’t have to play detective to figure out what you owned and what the estate consists of. Make sure the people responsible for carrying out your wishes know where to find your documents, and have the ability to get to the documents in case of need. A bank won’t let your agent access your bank vault if the document proving they have that authority is locked in the bank vault.
There you have it, five quick things to check to make sure your estate plan is in order. Now don’t forget to pack your toothbrush.
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net