Is it Time for an Estate Plan Checkup?

Written by Robert T. Nickerson

How often do your get a checkup? Most people would give you different answer depending on their situation. Some might go for a checkup once a month while others might take years in between visits. For those that take their time, it might seem careless, but they’re probably in a position where their health is the least of their concerns. The truth of the matter is that nothing is ever set in stone. These people should be going more often, especially if they have health insurance. In fact, there are a lot of things you should checkup more then you realize. 
 
One such thing is your estate plan. Most assume that once you’ve had one created that you can leave everything alone for a while. That is a hundred percent wrong. While I’m not saying you need to look at it every day, it wouldn’t hurt to set aside time once a year to reflect on both the estate plan and the people involved with it. The goal is to see if your plan is still reflective of your values and if the goals for your legacy are something you still want. Even if things are the same, personal events and changing tax laws can affect your future.
 
My solution is to have a “yearly test” with your attorney who helped create your estate plan. Here are some things that should go along with the test.
 
1. Has your life changed in a way that you need to reconsider your decisions?
– Has anyone gotten married? Any new kids? Serious illness?
– Has any laws changed? In light of the SECURE Act and the elimination of the lifetime stretch of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for non-spouse beneficiaries, it is important to discuss any retirement accounts you may own prior to changing the beneficiary designation.
 
2. How are your personal assets (bank accounts, real estate, retirement accounts, life insurance, etc…)?
– Has there been any recent deaths in the family? Then you need to speak with your financial institutions to change the designated beneficiaries.
– How has your personal relationships been? If there have been a change in which one person or both may no longer be the right decision makers.
 
3. Has your financial situation changed?
– This can be a big one. Have you paid off debt? Taken a new job? Bought new real estate? Made new investments? Any of these things needs to be reflected in your estate plan. 
– If you have a trust, then you need to ensure it stays out of probate. This is done by making sure that accounts and assets are properly reflected within the name on that trust. 

The law offices of Jeffery C. Nickerson is more then happy to help create an estate plan. Click below for more information. 

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