3 simple steps to see if your estate plan is up-to-date

Trust-based estate plans can fail if your assets aren’t properly funded into your trusts or otherwise aligned with your plan. Follow these three easy steps as soon as possible to make sure you’re wrapping up the year wisely.

  1. Review your trust design diagram or summary to ensure it still matches your goals.

Your trust diagram is in front of your binder. It will show the general distribution pattern and the line-up of successor trustees. It is a convenient “snap-shot” of your plan that can be reviewed in just a couple of minutes.

If you’ve experienced some changes since you last visited your estate plan, such as welcoming a new baby to the family, suffering the death of a loved one, or experiencing major health concerns, you might have a new perspective on what you’d like your long-term estate planning goals to look like. It’s always a good idea to revisit your trust design diagram or trust summary periodically to make sure it still works with your current situation.

  1. Gather your most recent bank statements, investment statements, beneficiary designation forms, and other paperwork concerning new accounts.

Remember, estate planning isn’t a one-and-done exercise! You need to routinely review and update your plan to ensure it meets your goals and works with ongoing changes to your assets, your family dynamics, and the law.

Look at all of your statements including bank accounts, money market accounts, brokerage accounts, etc. to see if they are funded into your trust. Retirement plans and life insurance policies will have beneficiary designations.

If you have closed and opened any accounts since we planned together please make sure the new account is in the name of your trust.

  1. Call us to discuss updating your trust asset schedules and ensuring that all of your property is properly funded into your trust or otherwise aligned with your plan.

Your trust schedules are an important supporting document to your estate plan. However, just because an item is listed on the schedules — your house, for example — doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it’s properly held within the trust. Things can get complicated (and potentially expensive or confusing for your family) when documents like trust schedules and deeds, titles, or other “ownership” documents don’t match up. Listing an asset on a trust schedule doesn’t transfer title of that asset from you to your trust on its own, so it’s important to make sure that actual ownership of all of your assets aligns with your estate planning goals and documents.

Once we make sure that all three of these steps are taken care of, you can focus your energy on enjoying the coming holiday season with your loved ones rather than worrying about your estate plan. Give us a call today to schedule a time to review your plan, update your asset schedules and ownership records, and otherwise help you achieve your estate planning goals.