Maintaining a Healthy Estate Plan
If you have been putting off updating your estate plan, you are unknowingly playing a risky game that very realistically could result in your loved ones facing financial loss, hurt feelings, and additional stress.
LIVING TRUST AND/OR WILLA trust and will are living documents and should be reviewed regularly - every three to five years - or anytime you or your spouse experiences a major life change. If the change does not trigger an update of your plan, you will have paid little or nothing to find that out and to gain some valuable peace of mind.
In cases involving the death of a spouse, the surviving spouse should explore with their estate planning attorney the status of their trust or will. In the case of a trust, they should also discuss the procedures of trust administration. If there is a will, failure to update the surviving spouse's will increases the risk, upon his or her death, of costly and stressful probate proceedings or other estate controversies to straighten out the inheritance issues down the line.
RETIREMENT PLANSA retirement plan beneficiary designation is very important, and often overlooked. Unlike other assets, retirement plans are not disbursed by a will or a trust. Instead, they are released based on the beneficiary forms on file with the owner's financial institution.
Too often, people neglect to update these beneficiary designations when their originally identified beneficiary (usually a spouse) dies, or the couple divorces.
LONG-TERM CAREIt is common for aging adults to ignore the possibility that one day they may be unable to care for themselves and may require nursing home care.
A single room in a private nursing facility can cost thousands of dollars per month, posing a harsh threat to one's life savings. If you lack a strategy to protect your assets and families from the costs of long-term care, you are risking your quality of life in your most vulnerable years.
THE UNEXPECTEDIt's an unexpected tragedy that many parents don't consider when creating their plans. But if the child dies first, what financial or legal consequences might result if the parents never updated their estate plans?
A YEARLY CONVERSATIONTo increase your chances of staying ahead of changes in your life situation, we recommend that, once a year, you check in with your estate planning attorney, even if only to let him or her know in a brief phone call that not much has changed since last year.
Good things often stem from those conversations, and you will find it to be a good habit.