As we approach the end of the year, it is helpful to evaluate an estate plan to determine if it is current and meeting the needs of the estate planner. It is also valuable for the estate planner to know what questions to ask when considering the usefulness of their estate plan or if they would like to make any changes to their estate plan.
Important considerations when evaluating an estate plan
- Are powers of attorney and a living will included in my estate plan that will express my wishes to allow my family and representatives to make medical, healthcare, financial and business decisions for me if I am incapacitated?
- Is my estate plan structured in a way that promotes efficient administration that will minimize effort, expense and conflict for my family?
- Have a implemented a plan that will allow my business to continue operating if I become incapacitated or pass away?
- Are there any economic or tax policy changes coming that may impact my estate plan?
- Will my qualified retirement accounts pass to my beneficiaries in a manner that is protected and tax efficient and have I taken into account any relevant changes in the laws?
- Are my assets structured in a way that will limit my exposure to potential liability?
Estate plans include several important components. To begin with, they include a will that distributes the estate planer’s assets and property to beneficiaries. They can also include a trust which can manage how assets and property are transferred and may help avoid probate. Additionally, they include powers of attorney and a living will, or advance healthcare directive, to plan for the estate planner’s incapacity. As life changes, an estate plan should change too. Estate planners should always be asking these and other important questions to determine if their estate plan still works for them.