It's a Good Time to Review Your Estate Plan

It's a Good Time to Review Your Estate Plan

by Julie Jason on Jan 10, 2019

Estate taxes

In a recent column, I discussed the new federal and state estate law changes that went into effect in 2019.  Be careful of being complacent about your situation.  The exemption amounts are large, which may leave you believing that you don’t need to do a review of your estate planning documents.  But, there is more involved than taxes. 

No matter the size of your estate, large or small, I recommend that you prepare a list of everything you own in your name alone. Check IRA, 401(k), 403(b), in trust for accounts, transfer on death (TOD) account, life insurance, to look for the beneficiary (these assets don’t pass under your will).  Don’t forget your real estate deeds, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, cars, everything you own.  Then, review your spouse’s holdings and jointly held assets. 

Figure out who the assets would go to in the event of your death, and if married, do the same for your spouse, assuming two situations: you die first; your spouse dies first. 

You may not know the answers in all situations, but it will give you a base of knowledge to start a dialogue with your attorney.  And, it will keep you focused on your assets and where you want them to go. (By the way, this is the type of exercise we do for our clientele as part of our investment counsel services.) 

If you think this exercise is more than you want to handle, take it as far as you can – at least get a list of assets together as well as copies of all your documents in a file.  That will save you time and money and lead to good planning when you meet with your estate planning lawyer.