We’re all home for the foreseeable future and many of us find we have a little extra time for projects. My sister is cleaning out her closets, my friend is painting her living room, my son is taking online guitar lessons.
If you have the urge to get something accomplished while quarantined, I have a challenge for you: review your estate plan.
We see clients all the time who come in with the documents they executed years ago. As we review the documents with them, they realize that their wishes have changed, their circumstances have changed. This is a great opportunity to ensure that any documents you have in place still reflect your wishes.
This is an obvious one but you would be surprised how often we hear that clients do not know where their documents are. You should know where your originals are (especially your Will). Someone you trust should also know where they are and how to access them. Are they in a safe place? If they are in a safe deposit box, does someone have access to them?
Step 2: READ the documents!
What do your documents say? When were they drafted? Are the distribution provisions still your wishes? Are the people in positions of responsibility still those you would choose? Has anyone developed a disability or financial problem that may require extra protection?
Step 3: Review your accounts and life insurance policies
Many of your assets will pass without regard to what your legal documents say. If you have a joint bank account it will pass directly to the joint owner. If you have an IRA or a life insurance policy, that will pass directly to the named beneficiary. Do all of your accounts have beneficiaries? Have your intended beneficiaries changed? The SECURE Act which was passed in December of 2019 changed the rules for inherited IRAS – should you update your beneficiaries due to these changes?
Step 4: Talk to your family
The reason we have estate plans is to protect our families and have our wishes carried out when we are gone. The best way to avoid discord and confusion in a time of great loss for your loved ones is to talk to them. Let’s face it, we all have the time these days to have a call with our loved ones. Let them know you love them, let them know your plan. Let them know if you have named them in a role of responsibility and make sure they are comfortable with that.
Depending on what you found in your research you will either be very pleased with yourself that your estate plan is exactly as you wish and be ready for a nice cup of tea, or be very pleased with yourself that you noticed some things that need to be tweaked – you also deserve a nice cup of tea. Additionally, you should probably call us to get those tweaks made.
Now you can clean your closet, or not!
Note: We are open and available to consult with you by phone or videoconference. Give us a call at (860) 236-7673, or contact us here.
Joint Bank Accounts: Who Gets the Funds After the Co-Owner Passes Away?