When Should I Have My Estate Plan Checked?
Every estate plan needs a periodic review to make sure that it covers changes in your personal, family and financial situations, in addition to revisions of tax and probate laws. This simple questionnaire will help you to determine whether or not your estate plan is in need of an update.
Questions To Ask Yourself About People
- Are all the individuals named in my Will/Trust living? Competent?
- Are individuals named to receive a bequest/distribution who no longer need (or deserve) a part of my estate?
- Should I add beneficiaries? Have any children or grandchildren entered my family through birth or adoption?
- Have I or any of my beneficiaries changed marital status? Will this, or should this, change my plans?
- Has any person named in my Will or related to anyone named in my Will become disabled, or shown an indication that they are unable to manage their finances?
- Would any person named in my Will to receive outright bequests be better off if their property were placed in trust?
- Is/are my successor Trustee(s) still willing and able to act if I become disabled? Could my beneficiaries benefit from the full-time management a professional Trustee could provide? Could my beneficiaries benefit from an independent Trustee who could act with or instead of my family Trustee?
- Have I, my spouse, my parent, or the parent of my spouse been diagnosed with a chronic or progressive illness that is debilitating?
- Does my Will/Trust authorize my fiduciaries (Personal Representative/Trustee) to reduce bequests by loans or advances made to beneficiaries? Should it do so?
Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Assets
- Do I still own all of the items specifically mentioned in my Will/Trust? Or have I updated the “memorandum” to my will recently to reflect the proper disposition of my tangible personal property?
- Have I purchased other items of value that I want to leave to a particular person?
- Has the size of my estate increased or decreased substantially?
- Am I involved in a partnership or closely-held corporation?
- Has the nature of my holdings changed? If so, will this affect any bequests/distributions?
- Have I taken out more life insurance? Who did I name as beneficiary/beneficiaries?
- Have I reviewed my beneficiary designation forms (life insurance, IRAs, annuities) to ensure that I have named the appropriate individuals?
- Have I put any property in joint names with my spouse or another person? If so, will this materially affect my plan? Has anyone added me as a joint owner of any property?
- Does my estate contain sufficient cash (or other assets that can readily be converted to cash) to pay estate obligations and taxes?
- Have I or my spouse inherited any property recently? Do I or my spouse anticipate inheriting property in the near future?
- Has anyone named me as their Attorney-in-Fact under a Durable Power of Attorney? As a Trustee? As a Personal Representative?