Is Your Estate Planning Up to Date?
Review this List to Be Sure
Proper estate planning is not just about writing a will. It’s about leaving a legacy, expressing your values, and ensuring your loved ones are cared for according to your wishes. In this final installment of our blog series on wealth protection and planning for retirees, we will delve into the importance of proper estate planning.
Your estate encompasses everything you own, and estate planning is about deciding what happens to these assets when you’re no longer around or able to make decisions. It’s a process that requires regular reviewing and updating to reflect your changing circumstances and wishes. Today, we’ll guide you through what to consider when reviewing your estate planning documents.
Estate Planning Review: Make Sure You Have the Right Documents
A pivotal first step in reviewing your estate planning is ensuring you have the right documents in place. Let’s start by discussing some of the most common estate planning documents:
Will: This document allows you to express how you want your assets distributed after your death. It also lets you appoint an executor to carry out these wishes and name guardians for minor children.
Living Will: A living will outlines your requests for medical care if you’re unable to make those decisions yourself, providing guidance on your preferred end-of-life care.
Trust: Trusts are legal entities that hold assets for others’ benefit. They’re versatile tools, useful for avoiding probate, catering to minors or disabled family members, and managing estate taxes.
Financial Power of Attorney: The purpose of this legal document is to designate a trusted person to manage your financial affairs if you’re unable to do so. It permits them to handle responsibilities like managing your assets and handling banking transactions.
Medical Power of Attorney: This document appoints a person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated, ensuring your healthcare aligns with your wishes.
While this list of documents is not exhaustive, these are among the most commonly used, and rightfully so. Having these essential documents and ensuring they are continuously updated to accurately reflect your current situation is a critical part of comprehensive estate planning.
Estate Planning Review: Key Events
Significant life events can drastically impact your estate plan. These events could include a death or divorce in the family, welcoming new grandchildren, or purchasing new real estate or other assets. It’s essential to review your estate plan after such events to ensure it still aligns with your current circumstances and wishes. Remember, the named executor of your will should be someone you trust and who is capable of handling the responsibilities. Ensure they’re still willing and able to act in this role.
ESTATE PLANNING REVIEW: TAX LAWS
Changes in tax laws, particularly those relating to estate tax exemptions, can significantly affect your estate planning strategy. Regularly reviewing your plan in light of these changes can help minimize the tax burden on your estate and maximize the wealth passed onto your heirs
ESTATE PLANNING REVIEW: ENSURING YOUR WISHES
The main goal of estate planning is to ensure your legal documents accurately reflect your desires, both during your life and after your passing. This preparation includes designating beneficiaries, appointing guardians for minor children, establishing trusts, and setting up medical directives. Review your estate planning documents regularly. Even if there haven’t been any significant life changes, your wishes or financial situation may have evolved. Your legacy depends on it.
ESTATE PLANNING REVIEW: SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP
Drafting your estate planning documents can be complex. Working with a professional, such as a certified financial planner or an estate attorney, can provide valuable guidance. They can help you understand the implications of different decisions, navigate complex tax laws, and ensure your documents are legally valid and up to date.
Remember, effective estate planning is integral to wealth protection, providing peace of mind, and ensuring that your wealth is distributed according to your wishes. It can provide financial security for your loved ones, leaving a lasting legacy.
We’ve covered many crucial topics during our six-part series on Wealth Protection and Planning for Retirees, and hope you found them enlightening and beneficial for your financial journey. If you have any questions or need help with wealth protection and planning, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Chris Zeches is a certified financial planner and managing partner at Zeches Wealth Management. Zeches Wealth Management has one singular focus: To financial planning and tax expertise to help multi-generational families and business owners achieve more of what they love. If you have a specific question regarding your situation, please email chris @zecheswealth.com.
Have A Question?
If you have questions that are specific to your family’s situation, feel free to contact us and we will do what we can to help.