Top 4 Tips for Estate Planning

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Published by Taylor Financial Group

August is the last month of summer, which means that fall is right around the corner.  Just as we prepare for fall by buying new school supplies for our kids or bringing our boots out from storage, we must also prepare for the future by creating and reviewing our estate plans.  Estate planning is often back-burnered by people, especially as we are all busy and would rather think of less complicated things.  It can be overwhelming to think about what you have, how much of it you have, who to give it to, how to distribute it, etc.  However, estate planning is extremely important and must be a priority, lest you run the risk of passing on property and financial assets to unintended heirs in unintentional ways.  Here are my Top 4 Tips on what you should do for proper estate planning!

Have Estate Planning Documents in Place

You must create an estate plan with estate planning documents prepared by an estate planning attorney.  At a minimum, consider these documents: Last Will & Testament, Power of Attorney, Trust(s), Health Care Directive and Living Will.  These documents will help you outline your wishes if you become incapacitated or pass away, both of which can happen unexpectedly.  In addition, you can check out the following newsletter for more information on how to ensure your assets are protected through Estate Planning.

Make a List of Financial Accounts and Assets

By accounting for all of your financial accounts and assets, you will ensure that your estate is properly handled.  By using our financial planning process, WealthMatch, we are able to safely store all of our clients’ information and documents (like Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney) in their Client Vault.  Clients can then access their electronic vault and even share access to the vault with whomever they choose.

Confirm Beneficiary Designations

Your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and any joint or payable on death (POD) titled assets will not pass to your heirs through your Will.  Therefore, you must review the following to ensure that the beneficiaries stated are consistent (and remain consistent) with your wishes:

  • Beneficiaries of all retirement accounts (IRAs, Roth IRAs, Employer Sponsored Plans, Pensions)
  • Beneficiaries of all insurance policies (life insurance and annuities)
  • “Transfer on death” or “payable on death” designations for your bank or brokerage accounts

Review and Update Your Estate Plan Periodically

An estate plan is not a “one and done” type of thing, especially because as you and your wishes change, so should your estate plan.  Therefore, we recommend revisiting your estate plan every 3-5 years to ensure it remains consistent with your wishes and accounts for changes to the Federal and State estate tax laws.  For more information, check out this Estate Planning Checklist!

Following these tips will go a long way in ensuring you have a successful estate plan that is in accordance with your wishes.  However, there is always more that you can do.  We also recommend reviewing wishes with the proper fiduciaries, having a durable power of attorney, considering the needs and situations of heirs, removing assets from the estate for potential tax savings, and considering gifting techniques when creating your estate plan.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns, or if you want to review or update your estate plan.

 

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