How current is your estate plan? Does it still align with your wishes? If you haven’t reviewed your estate plan recently, you may not know the answers to those questions. It’s possible that your strategy is no longer appropriate for you.
Many people fail to review their estate plan on a regular basis. After all, it’s never a pleasant experience to think about one’s own passing. You may even think that estate planning isn’t important right now because your death is unlikely.
However, death is always a possibility, even if it’s not likely. If you pass away and your estate plan is out of date or doesn’t reflect your wishes, you may put your loved ones in a difficult position. Your assets could be distributed to the incorrect people. Without your guidance, your loved ones may disagree and argue about how to settle the estate. It’s possible your dependents may face financial challenges.
Below is a quick checklist of items to review in your estate plan. If you haven’t reviewed your plan recently, now may be the time to do so. A financial professional can also help you conduct a thorough review.
A will is one of the simplest and most powerful estate planning tools available. You can use it to state which assets should go to which heirs. You can also use your will to state who should care for your minor children after you pass away.
Estates that don’t have a will are considered intestate. The local court makes all the decisions that would normally be determined in a will, such as child custody and who gets which assets. This process can trigger a legal fight among your loved ones and may result in outcomes that don’t align with your wishes. You can avoid this risk by creating a will and keeping it up to date.
You may think your estate plan is only for what happens after you pass away. However, you can also use it to manage incapacitation, which many people face in the final months or years of their life. Incapacitation is the inability to make or communicate decisions, and it’s often caused by cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.
You can create documents such as a living will or power of attorney to communicate your wishes and designate someone as your decision-maker. In fact, your power of attorney can pay your bills, manage your investments and make any other financial decision that you can’t make for yourself if you become incapacitated.
You likely have assets and accounts that have beneficiary designations. Life insurance, annuities, 401(k) plans, IRAs and more all use beneficiaries to transfer assets after the account owner passes away.
It’s important to review your beneficiaries periodically to make sure they’re up to date. Beneficiary designations usually can’t be challenged after the account owner passes away. That means if you inadvertently leave a former spouse or other person as a beneficiary on your life insurance, they will likely receive that benefit, even if it’s not what you intended. If you experience any kind of major life change, it’s wise to review your beneficiaries.
Ready to review your estate plan? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Advantage Retirement Services. We can help you analyze your needs and develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
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