As the season begins to change and warmer weather is on the horizon, it is the perfect time to do some spring cleaning– organizing and updating your home – but don’t forget to do the same with your estate plan! No one enjoys planning for death and disability, but it is important to review your plan periodically (or create one if you don’t have one!) to ensure that your wishes are properly reflected and your family is prepared to act when needed. As you are organizing your closets this spring, consider the following:
Locate Your Documents. Where is your estate plan? Do you have copies of all of your signed documents? Who holds your original Will? Original Wills must be filed with the court upon death, and are needed to transfer assets after death. Eliminate any confusion for your family by compiling all of your current documents and, after confirming with your attorney, destroying any revoked documents, unsigned drafts, etc.
Review Your Documents; Consider Life Changes. Have your family circumstances changed? Are your children now adults and as such, can take over the responsibility of handling your financial matters and health care if you become incapacitated? Does your estate plan provide a bequest to a friend or charity with whom you no longer have a relationship? Are you recently divorced? Or has a family member passed away? It is important to review your documents in light of these changing circumstances so that you can confirm that your assets will pass as you intend.
Update or Create a List of Assets and Liabilities. The people you have named in your estate plan to handle your financial affairs can more easily assist if they know what type of assets you have and who they can contact for more information. Keep this information in a secure location, but let a trusted family member know how they can find it in an emergency. Review and update this list periodically as you buy and sell real estate, purchase life insurance policies, etc.
Fund Your Estate Plan. If you have a trust, have you titled assets in the name of your Trust? Have you put beneficiary designations on your accounts? Having an estate plan will not avoid probate unless it has been properly funded.
Consider Residency. Have you recently moved? Particularly if you have moved out of the state in which you established your estate plan, it is important to speak with your attorney as to whether any updates are needed to account for your new state of residency.
And remember, you don’t need to handle all the spring cleaning on your own! The attorneys at Buckley Fine, LLC can assist you with reviewing your estate plan and discussing whether updates are needed or helping you create an estate plan. Please contact us at 847-381-0011 to schedule a consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys.