Our office typically sees a flurry of activity in January. Apparently, estate planning keeps good company with diet and exercise when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. Here are some tips for creating and updating your estate plan in 2016:
- Review and update your estate planning documents. Have there been changes in your family or financial situation? Have you recently retired? Have there been changes in the law that will impact your estate plan? Chances are, if it’s been more than 2 or 3 years since you last reviewed your estate plan, there have been some changes to your personal, financial or legal circumstances that impact your planning goals. And, if you have no plan in place, consider the ramifications of the default estate on the deceased and incapacitated.
- Review and update your long term care planning. According to the 2015 Genworth Financial, Cost of Care Survey (Full Survey), 70% of people over the age of 65 will need some type of long term care. Do you have sufficient funds to self-insure? If you have a long term care policy, is it adequate for the current/anticipated costs? Have you spoken to your attorney about protecting your assets from the costs of long term care?
- Review and update your financial plan. Does your financial plan adequately capture your needs? If you’re retired, will your retirement income and assets support your current lifestyle? If you’re not retired, are you working towards a goal, or just going through the motions? Do you have a financial professional advising you on these matters, or do you have the prerequisite knowledge and background to address your financial planning? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” or “I don’t know,” consider visiting with a financial advisor. Most will offer a free initial consultation. Ask your attorney or CPA for a recommendation.
- Review your trust funding status. If you have a revocable living trust, check to see if your assets are properly titled and your beneficiary designations are properly aligned with your estate plan. While you’re at it, check if you have the proper amount of life insurance (too little, or too much).
- Properly secure your asset list, estate planning and other important documents. Put them in a fire resistant safe or better yet, safe deposit box.
- Have the conversation with your loved ones. Not only about their expectations and the roles they will play in your plan, but about the importance of their estate planning.
We do estate planning to make things easier on our loved ones. Otherwise, we wouldn’t bother. Just like anything else in life, an estate plan requires the occasional maintenance. Hopefully these tips will get you pointed in the right direction for a 2016 with peace of mind.