Planning is important because it gives you the opportunity to provide for the loved ones and causes you value. Taking the time to carefully plan what to do with your assets allows you to pass along the ideals that guide your life.
You don’t need to be wealthy to have an estate plan. With careful planning, you may find that you can meet your own goals, support the needs of your family members and other loved ones, and also create a charitable legacy.
And don’t forget to review and update your plan regularly. Even the most carefully prepared plans will need to change as your life circumstances change. Your estate plan is also a life plan. Your future financial well-being may depend on the plan you make now.
- You have married, divorced, entered into a civil partnership, or started cohabitating with a partner.
- You have added to your family through birth and/or adoption.
- You have grandchildren.
- You need to appoint or change guardians and/or trustees for your children.
- You are near retirement.
- You have acquired additional assets, including real estate, retirement plans, or life insurance policies.
- You have disposed of some assets.
- Your need for income during retirement has increased or decreased.
- You have not named an organization that reflects your values in your current plan.
- You would like to change the existing beneficiaries of your estate.
- State or federal tax laws have changed.
- You have not reviewed your will in 3-5 years.
Here are some reasons you may want to revise your estate plan and update your beneficiary designations:
- Planning doesn’t just distribute your assets after your lifetime. You also need a plan to ensure that your needs are taken care of while you are alive.
- It may be more costly to not have a plan than to make one.
- You may end up accidentally disinheriting the very people and organizations you want to protect and provide for.
- If you don’t have a will or living trust, the government will determine how most of your belongings are distributed. The result may not be what you would want.
- Make a list of everything you own – such as real estate, bank and investment accounts, retirement plans, life insurance policies, personal collections, jewelry, cars, and boats. Nothing is too trivial! Don’t forget to include locations of documents and computer passwords for electronic files.
- Decide how you wish to distribute your assets to family, loved ones, and the causes you care about.
- If you have minor children, select guardians and financial trustees for them.
- Consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning.
- Execute a durable power of attorney that names the person who will make financial decisions for you if you were to become incapacitated.
- Execute a living will and health care power of attorney.
- Contact organizations you wish to include for accurate bequest language.
- Create a will or living trust that details how your assets should be distributed.
- Review and update the beneficiary designation on retirement plan accounts, bank and brokerage accounts, and life insurance policies.