If you already have an estate plan in place, you are ahead of the majority of Americans. You also likely understand the importance of estate planning and realize the gift you are giving yourself and your family. Your estate plan, however, can only work as intended if it reflects your current needs, wishes, and goals. That means you need to review and update your plan from time to time. Toward that end, the Indianapolis attorneys at Frank & Kraft offer an estate plan review checklist to help ensure that your plan is successful.
- Beneficiaries. Beneficiary designations are found throughout your estate plan in places such as your Last Will and Testament, a trust agreement, life insurance policies, financial accounts, and retirement accounts. A beneficiary can be a person, and entity (such as charitable or religious organization), or even the family pet. If there has been a birth, death, divorce, or marriage, you may need to update your beneficiaries. You may have simply had a change of heart that calls for the addition or deletion of a beneficiary.
- Fiduciary positions. Fiduciary positions include the Executor of your estate, a Trustee in a trust agreement, an Agent in a financial Power of Attorney, or an Agent in a healthcare Power of Attorney. These are very important roles within your plan. Make sure that your choses fiduciaries are still willing and able to serve in the designated roles and that you still want them in those roles. Also make sure that you have appointed successors and/or included instructions for how a successor should be chosen.
- Assets and debts. You do not need to update your plan every time there is a relatively minor change in your debts or assets; however, review them now and make sure that your plans account for your current assets and debts.
- Advance Directives. You likely have two advance directives in your estate plan: a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney. In your Healthcare Power of Attorney, you appointed an Agent to make healthcare decisions for you if your incapacity prevents you from making them. Make sure your Agent is still willing and able to make those decisions. If you have changed your mind about your Agent, or about any of the terms of your Living Will, now is the time to make those changes in your estate plan.
- Minor children. If you did not have children when you created your current estate plan, they need to be included in your plan immediately. Things to consider or update to protect your minor children include the appointment of a Guardian in your Will, the creation of a trust to manage and protect their inheritance, and beneficiary designations in your Will/trust, life insurance policies, and other financial accounts. If your children were minors when you created your current plan, but they are now all legal adults, you should review and update the trust you created to shield their inheritance because they are now able to inherit directly from your estate.
- Long-term care. If you do not already have a long-term care planning component in your estate plan, talk to your estate planning attorney about adding one. The likelihood that you or a spouse will need LTC coupled with the high cost of LTC make planning crucial for most people. Because Medicare will not cover the cost of LTC, consider adding Medicaid planning to your estate plan when you review and update your plan.
Is It Time to Review Your Estate Plan?
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you need to review and update your estate plan, contact the experienced Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.
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