Estate Planning Checklist 2020Submitted by Reby Advisors | Certified Financial Planners | Danbury, CT on September 6th, 2019
By Patrick Doherty, CFP®, September 6, 2019
When it comes to planning for the future, taking care of loved ones and achieving your own goals, legacy planning is one of the most important steps you can take. It may seem like something that you can push back – it’s certainly not fun to talk about – but we’ve found that once it’s taken care of, there’s usually a tremendous burden lifted from one’s shoulders.
Take a look at our Estate Planning Checklist 2020 below to ensure that your assets go to whom you want, when you want, and in the manner you want. Without these documents in place, reflecting your latest wishes, these critical decisions will be made by someone else.
Remember, it’s important to review these estate documents every few years with your attorney. Laws change, and your wishes may change as well. I have seen wills that focus on providing for minor children, even though those children are now adults with their own children! When that happens, it’s definitely time to update your documents.
Here’s the checklist:
● Account Beneficiaries & Contingent Beneficiaries
The first box that you want to check off of your estate planning checklist would be to verify that you have both primary and contingent beneficiaries listed on all of your important financial assets like IRAs, investment assets, and insurance contracts. This will help to ensure that your assets are transferred to the right people.
For instance, say you established a living trust – you’d want to name a close beneficiary of the trust (or several), so that the ground rules for your trust are established in terms of how much each beneficiary will receive, in addition to when they can expect to receive their share of the trust. This article by LegalZoom breaks down the process – The Beneficiaries.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Any account with a named beneficiary supersedes your will.
● Durable Powers of Attorney
This is arguably one of the most critical boxes to check, because if you should ever become incapacitated, it’s important that you have a close relative, spouse, or caregiver identified, so that they can legally make decisions for you on your behalf. These decisions can range anywhere from financial dealings, to property, and other assets.
● Healthcare Proxies
Next, you’ll also want to name a healthcare proxy. This individual will most likely be a spouse or a close family relative. Their job will be to make all healthcare-related decision on your behalf, should you ever become incapacitated.
● Testamentary Will
A testamentary will details your wishes regarding who gets your assets after you pass away, and how you would like minor children to be cared for. “Testamentary” means that it’s prepared by the person whose assets will be inherited, and signed by witnesses. A testamentary will is often considered the most effective insurance against family or business partners challenging your wishes.
● Living Will
Now, just what is a Living Will? LegalZoom defines a Living Will as:
“Commonly referred to as an advance directive, a Living Will is a document that provides instructions regarding end of life care. Living Wills allow you to make your own choices about life support and helps to prevent confusion about the type of care that you do or do not want to receive in the event that you become incapable of communicating your wishes.”
Updating your living will can help ensure that your wishes are granted and followed, should you ever be in a position where you cannot clearly communicate them.
● If You Have a Revocable Trust, Ensure Assets Have Been Retitled
If a revocable trust is to be effective, assets must be retitled in the name of the trust. It’s surprisingly common for people to overlook this vital step. Common assets held in revocable living trusts include investment accounts and real estate. Less common are nonqualified annuities; stock and bond certificates; tangible personal property; business interests; monies owed to you; and royalties, trademarks and patents.
● Make Sure Your Documents Are Accessible
Crossing off each item on this checklist does not guarantee that your wishes will be granted. Beneficiaries and the people responsible for executing your wishes – executors – need to know how to access these and other vital documents.
One way to do this is by providing executors and others who need access with a checklist of your key contacts and documents. This checklist would also indicate where each item is located.
Reby Advisors provides clients with complimentary access to a secure service called Everplans for this purpose. Everplans enables you to securely store documents and grant access to the appropriate people.
Be Sure To Check off Every Last Box
When it comes to this checklist, the most important thing to remember is that every box is crucial, and every box left unchecked can cause stress for your family. At the end of the day, this checklist is about you knowing that your assets will end up being transferred to the people you want to inherit them after you pass away.
Here at Reby Advisors, we can help you check off the boxes on this checklist. Contact us today if you would like help planning your legacy and other goals.
Use Everplans to Store and Share Your Estate Documents
If you are already a client, contact your advisor about using Everplans to store your vital documents or click here to learn more about the service. It’s complimentary for our wealth management clients.
Furthermore, Everplans and other similar services are used for legacy planning purposes beyond the legal and the financial. You can leave behind valuable advice, video memories, letters and more. In the coming weeks, we’ll share some legacy planning ideas that go beyond money.