Estate Planning is a complex process that involves much more than simply signing documents. A successful estate plan requires an intimate understanding of family dynamics, finances, and personal goals. In order to assure that estate planning goals come to fruition, individuals should take the time to review their estate plan at least once every 5 years.
- Financial Accounts: Prepare an updated inventory of your financial accounts and review your beneficiary designations. In the days of paperless banking, it has become increasingly difficult for family members to locate financial accounts without sufficient guidance.
- Online Accounts: Keep an updated list of your online accounts, usernames, and passwords. Consider using a third-party integration (e.g. LastPass) to store your passwords. This app is free and allows you to simply remember one master password to store the rest! It will be important to remember your own master password and save a hard copy in a secure location so that your family members can access your accounts in the event of death or incapacity.
- Family Situation: Family dynamics change over time. Consider whether any of these changes need to be reflected in your estate plan.
- Document Review: Read through your documents and be sure to understand their purpose. In many cases, provisions that were once relevant (e.g. guardianship for minor children) may need to be removed. Furthermore, decision-makers who were appropriate in the past may need to be replaced with new nominees.
- Changes in Health: Aging is a natural part of life. This process is often accompanied by changes in health that may require changes in your estate plan to accomplish new objectives.
- Advisors: Keep an updated list of important contacts, including your attorney, financial advisor, accountant, insurance agent, banker, and funeral home director (among others) to enable your loved ones to easily contact persons who are equipped to help them manage your estate in the event of incapacity or death.
- Speak with an Attorney: Your estate plan deserves input from a qualified estate planning attorney who can guide you through this complex and detail-oriented area of the law.