With 2017 reaching its halftime, the temptation is to focus on fun in the sun. While rest and relaxation is necessary, taking a moment to go through a mid-year estate planning checklist to ensure those documents are current.
With a new presidential administration pursuing changes in the law and rolling back regulations, you want to make sure that your tax plan is still efficient. You want confidence that assets will transfer to your beneficiaries at the right time and in the right manner.
- Look at existing executors and trustees to ensure that they are appropriate and up to tasks that carry significant responsibility. Following that review, you may need to explore alternate fiduciaries.
- Ensure the legality of your powers of attorney. The documents may be outdated due to changes in the law that facilitates acceptance by banks and other institutions.
- Review life insurance and retirement account beneficiaries that may not be controlled by the terms of your will and trust agreements. Double-check the accuracy of information on beneficiaries who will receive those assets.
- Go over existing life, homeowners, umbrella, disability, LTC and other insurance coverage. You want to make sure that policies match personal circumstances and increase coverage or secure new policies if necessary.
- Take a look at not only investments and portfolio, but also trusted advisors. Identify the fees paid over the past year and the fiduciary standard where your best interests must come first. Most importantly, ask questions of them.
- Funding your trust now may avoid a complicated probate process. Funded trusts will not reduce court fees, but it can reduce the process and procedures loved ones must endure to take control of your assets.
- Confirm your estate tax domicile. You need to consider where your “home” is if you have more than one residence or are considering a move. Where you live will affect estate taxes that your loved ones will pay based on the laws of one particular state.
Educating yourself by meeting with an attorney and financial professionals is an important first step. The more you know, the more you and your loved ones will have peace of mind.