Posted by:  The Life and Legacy Planning Group

As our client, you probably already have a Living Trust-based estate plan (or we’re in the process of working on one with you). So, you’re on the right track to getting the most from your assets and protecting yourself and your family from financial mismanagement and over-taxation.

However, trust-based estate plans can fail if your assets aren’t properly funded into your Living 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. Once your Christmas shopping is done, take some time to reflect on the year gone by, and particularly on the year to come. Make a New Year’s resolution to take the time necessary to review your estate plan and whether your assets are aligned with that plan.

Review your Trust Summary to ensure it still matches your goals.
If you’ve experienced some changes since you last revisited 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 Summary periodically to make sure it still works with your current situation.

Gather your most recent bank statements, investment statements, beneficiary designation forms, and other paperwork concerning new accounts.
A well-designed estate plan, though critical, gets you only half-way to your estate planning goal. Your asset ownership and beneficiary designations have to align with your estate plan in order for it to be fully effective. Review the Summary of Assets or spreadsheet that we prepared for you and review your recent bank statements, investment statements, beneficiary designation forms and other paperwork to be sure that the information we have is accurate. If no, bring your important financial documents to us to make sure we don’t need to change anything in your existing estate plan based on your current account statements and other financial data. Remember, estate planning isn’t a one-and-done exercise! We 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.

Call us to discuss updating your Schedule of Assets or spreadsheet and ensuring that all of your property is properly funded into your Living Trusts or otherwise aligned with your plan.
Your Schedule of Assets or spreadsheet are an important supporting document to your estate plan. However, just because an item is listed on these documents — your house, for example — doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it’s properly held within the Living Trust. Things can get complicated (and potentially expensive or confusing for your family) when documents like spreadsheets and deeds, titles, or other “ownership” documents don’t match up. Listing an asset on a spreadsheet doesn’t transfer title of that asset from you to your Living 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.