It is important for the financial wellness of an individual, family or business, for that matter, that the Estate or Business plan be revisited at least annually. A lot goes on over the course of a year. It may seem to go by slowly, but the dynamics are always changing the landscape of finances. Whether buying a new home, renting out property or welcoming a new son-in-law or grandchild into the family, our lives are constantly changing.
While change is usually good, one “small” change can have a ripple effect in other areas of our lives. One area is the Estate Plan. Many people think that by having an Estate Plan all signed and sealed, their legacy is wrapped up until a catastrophe hits. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is that an estate plan provides guidance in managing your wishes and legacy. But, it was established at one moment in time. As time goes on, so do the decisions you make and events you experience. And, as time goes on, we tend to change our minds.
There are many events or changes that can affect your Estate (and Financial) plan. Here is a partial checklist to consider:
- Assets – Have you made any acquisitions or sales? (i.e. Has new property been titled properly? Are your financial accounts titled properly?)
- Partnerships/Agreements – Have you entered into any new partnerships or contracts?
- Loans – Have you co-signed on loans that could impact your beneficiaries?
- Health – Are the instructions in your Advance Medical Directives still accurate? Has your health changed? Have your medical insurance needs changed (i.e. Medicare)? Are you still comfortable with your Healthcare Power of Attorney?
- Beneficiaries – Do you still want the beneficiaries that you have designated in your trust?
- Power of Attorney or Guardians – Do you still want the designated POA? If you have children, have you appointed guardians should the need arise?
- Occupation – Have you retired or sold a business?
- Insurance – Have your insurance needs changed?
- Security – With the constant need to be cyber-vigilant, do you have cyber-security in place?
- Valuable Documents – Are your valuable documents in one place? Does your financial designee know how to access them?
- There are more…
While we recommend reviewing your Financial Plan at least annually, it is equally important to connect with your estate planning attorney a minimum of every few years to revisit the structure of your Estate Plan and other trust documents. It could be a phone call or may require a personal visit. Regardless, it is important for nothing other than peace of mind that your estate is in place. (Remember Prince, Aretha Franklin and others who did not even have an Estate Plan?)
While these may seem like small issues, they can have a significant impact on your estate if they are overlooked. The important thing is that your estate plan reflects your wishes and properly includes your assets. Bottom line, an Estate Plan checkup is important to ensure that your loved ones, property and legacy are protected.