Annual Estate Planning Checklist

With the start of the New Year, it is as good of a time as any to sit down and assess your financial health and preparedness. Here is a quick checklist to help you knock this off your ever-increasing to do list:

  1. Do you have a will? If not, get one. Everyone over 18 needs a will, especially if you have minor children.

  2. Draft health care directives, including a living will and health care power of attorney. Make your health wishes known to your family and loved ones so they know exactly what you would want to happen in the case of a medical emergency or illness.

  3. Review your life insurance coverage. Life insurance is often one of, if not the largest, asset in an estate. It is important to have adequate coverage to protect your family.

  4. Update beneficiary designation forms. Assets that pass by beneficiary designation, such as life insurance, retirement accounts, transfer on death, and pay on death accounts do not pass under the terms of your will but by your beneficiary designation. Review your designations to be sure that they are consistent with your current plans.

  5. Consult with a financial advisor. If you have a 401(k), an IRA, securities, 529 plans for college (or private high school now), make sure you are maximizing your investment strategies.

  6. Review your appointments. If you already have a complete estate plan, do you need to change your executor, successor trustee, guardian, or health care agents? Do you have documents with all of those properly selected?

  7. Is your plan current? When you have life changes, such as marriage, divorce, a new baby, or moving to a new state, you should review and update your documents.

  8. Have the hard conversations. Nobody wants to talk about death and end of life decisions. Nobody wants to think about who would raise your children if something happened to both parents. But these are the conversations that are necessary. Let the people you want to serve in various roles know that you have named them in your documents.

  9. Tell your family where your documents are stored. Once you go through the process to create your estate plan, store your plan in a safe place and make sure your family can get the originals easily.

  10. Call an estate planning attorney. I do not charge for initial consultations for estate planning clients. If you need new documents or just a review of current documents, please call or email me today.

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