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Is it time to review your estate plan?

Thank you to our friends at Straton & Reynolds for this information on estate planning. Be sure to give them a call at 803-358-7214

Once you have a solid estate plan in place, you should review your plan every three to five years and whenever you experience significant life changes. The routine review helps us determine whether your goals may have changed. In addition to routine reviews, a review is needed anytime you experience a change in circumstances. This can include:

  • Marriage

  • Divorce

  • Birth of a child

  • Adoption of a child

  • Death or change in circumstance of someone you named as executor or guardian

  • Serious illness

  • Change in financial circumstances

  • Starting a business

  • Arrival of grandchildren

  • Changes in your children's situations

The most crucial steps in estate planning are having a will, powers of attorney for financial and medical decision-making, and a trust. This planning ensures that your property will be transferred as you wish when the time comes and that the correct people are making the decisions for you. Preplanning is often seen as expensive but saves money, hassle, and heartache in the long run for your heirs and loved ones. However, much like a good vehicle, an estate plan requires regular maintenance and tune-ups.

First review all your assets and how they are titled. This includes your home, car, vacation home, travel trailer, etc. If you have a living trust, assets should be titled to the trust or have the trust as a beneficiary in most cases. Next, review insurance policies. Be sure the amount is still appropriate, and check beneficiaries. If you have taken out a policy with a specific purpose in mind, be sure you have talked to the beneficiaries about this, so they know your wishes. Some examples might be insurance policies to take care of your final arrangements or to help a child or grandchildren with educational expenses. Then look over your trust to be sure that the people listed as beneficiaries are still appropriate. Once all assets have been reviewed, spend some time thinking about your financial goals.

Now, consider what has changed since your estate plan was developed. Did you get married or develop a long-term relationship with someone you want to provide for? Is one of your children struggling with addiction or health problems? Do you have a child or grandchild with special needs that you wish to provide for? Is there a charity that you would like to see benefit? These are all very realistic issues that need thoughtful consideration. If you have opened a business, it is especially important for you to develop a business succession plan as part of your overall estate planning process. This ensures that a person or persons of your choosing runs your business.

Finally, It may be that the person that you designated as your personal representative, trustee, or guardian for your children is no longer able to serve or has even pre-deceased you. This is the time to choose another person to act in that capacity. In addition, if you have documents that haven’t been reviewed in many years, it is important to speak with someone to make sure no laws have changed that might affect your estate plan.

-TC, Chasity, and Jeff



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