If you are like many, you take advantage of the new year by organizing certain areas of your life. Perhaps you make resolutions, alter your diet or purge your closets as a gesture of making a fresh start. One important item that can use your attention as the year comes to an end is your estate plan.
As you reflect on the past year, you may remember some important events. Did you or one of your children get married? Did you go through a divorce or lose someone you love? Did your family welcome children or grandchildren? Did you suffer a financial loss or enjoy a substantial increase in wealth? These and many other events are good reasons to take a fresh look at your estate plan.
Factors to consider
Few people take the time to create an estate plan, and those who have one in place do not always keep it current. Having an obsolete will or an unfunded trust may leave your family with worthless documents at the end of your life, so it is a good practice to add a review of your estate plan to your goals for the new year. Some important factors to examine include the following:
- Beneficiaries: If you married, divorced, remarried or lost a loved one, it is critical that you revise your beneficiary designations, including those on your insurance policies and retirement plans. Otherwise, your assets may not go where you intend them to go.
- Digital assets: This is a relatively new part of estate planning, and you want to be certain you have left instructions about your business website, intellectual property, online banking and digital currency, among other assets you may have. Some may have little financial value but great personal meaning, such as photos or social media accounts.
- Tangible assets: If you have moved, purchased property or other assets outside of Utah, bought or sold real estate or valuables, or made other changes in assets, it is important to ensure your trust reflects the changes.
- Representatives: It is possible that those you have chosen as your trustee or estate executor are no longer able to carry out these duties. You may need to change these appointments.
- Power of attorney: As with your representatives, you will want to make sure those you have chosen to handle your medical and financial needs are still around and able to carry out the responsibilities.
The end of the year, with its holidays and family celebrations, may be a good time to bring your loved ones together to discuss your estate plan, especially if you have made major changes recently. Keeping your family updated on your decisions allows you to address their questions and concerns.