With Tax Season having just passed, many people still have their various tax and financial documents handy. It’s a great time to make the extra effort and review your Estate Plan, and discuss it with your Spouse or Partner. When you are young, a Will might be all that you need, unless you have a considerable amount of money, there are special needs people who are dependent upon you or you have a medical condition that might warrant more consideration. As you age; however, besides the Will, you might also consider a “Durable” Power-of-Attorney and a Health Care Surrogate.
The linked article, from the NY Times, provides a good refresher, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/your-money/estate-planning-under. Without going into a lot of detail, I would draw your attention to ten reasons to, at least, dust-off your Plan:
1. Life changes–retiring, getting married, divorced, have children, or lost a Spouse or Partner?
2. Moving to another state? Review your old Plan with a Member of the Bar in your new home state, both to update your documents and make sure that they are valid under the new State’s Laws.
3. Make sure that you chose who will be the Custodian of Minor Children, if you and your Spouse/Partner pass away. Also, provide them the necessary financial assets to do so, if possible.
4. Update your beneficiaries–new ones, some are deceased, or ones that you just wish to eliminate. Be sure to account for beneficiaries who were minors (under your old Plan), but are now adults. Consider children of beneficiaries who pre-deceased you.
5. Do some potential beneficiaries need more financial assistance than others?
6. Should you update your choice of Executor, Trustee, or Successor of either. Generally, choose someone younger than you, knowledgeable and willing to serve.
7. Tax considerations, such as Trusts, Gifting, etc. T
8. Tax-Deferred Assets, such as 401(k)s, or Traditional or ROTH IRAs are generally conveyed directly through each of the Custodians. You might also want to consult your Tax Advisor on these.
9. Are their business interests? If so, do you have a Succession Plan? If not, who will advise your Executor with regard to disposition of the Business nor Assets?
10. Your attorney will probably have other points to discuss.
NOTE: Wills are generally filed in the County Clerk’s Office, and are accessible to the general public.