Estate Planning - Not a "Once and Done" Event
Article written by Scott M Kahan in Hamlet Living - September 2022 Magazine
Often, we find that people who come in for financial planning have not reviewed their estate planning documents in years, assuming they have records, to begin with. It is not unusual for young parents to not have made decisions for their children’s care if something happened to both parents. The biggest roadblock is whom they would name as guardians and trustees. In other words, who would raise the kids and manage the money for them?
The basic documents people usually need are a will, health care proxy, and a power of attorney. But this is just the starting point. It may get more complicated when you start to think about what assets you own. For example, do you have a second home in another state, rental property, or a business?
Here are some basic things to consider:
- Do you need to change any beneficiaries, executors, trustees, guardians, or others named in your documents? Are all still living? Did you have children or grandchildren when your current documents were drafted? Or maybe your minor children are now adults and are financially responsible.
- Did you move to a different state since the execution of your estate documents? If so, you may need a local estate attorney to check any legal differences in planning between your old and new states. Or do you have a property in another state that would cause your estate to go through probate there?
- Do you still need your trust documents? Have your children passed the ages specified in a children’s trust (in which you designate money for such specific purposes as education, home down payments, or weddings once the kids reach certain ages)? If your estate documents call for a trust to give children access to money at certain ages after you die, you may be able to delete that language if the kids are older than the specified ages.
- Are your adult children married? What happens if they get divorced? A trust can help you protect assets for your child or grandchild.
- Do you have heirs with special needs? An attorney that specializes in special needs trusts may be needed.
- Check beneficiary designations on brokerage accounts, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. This is an easy thing to correct.
- Do your heirs know where to find all your important information? Let someone know the passwords to your accounts so they can access them if needed.
It may be time to update your estate planning!