How Can I Make My Estate Plan Tidy?

Tidy estate plan
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Keeping your estate plan tidy will benefit your family.

Most people do not enjoy cleaning their home.

Despite this fact, it is less work to keep things tidy than to deep clean after an extended period of neglect.

The same could be said of estate planning.

According to a recent Chicago Business Journal article titled “8 steps to tidy up your estate plan now,” there are certain steps you can take to avoid leaving a messy estate plan.

It is important to create a tidy estate plan.
Taking time now to tidy your estate plan will benefit your loved ones.

What are these?

Make sure your estate planning documents are current and accurate.

A comprehensive estate plan will include a health care treatment directive, a durable power of attorney for health care decisions, a general durable power of attorney (for financial decisions), a last will and testament, and perhaps a revocable living trust.

Review these regularly with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure they are updated to comply with current laws and your wishes.

Be sure to store these in a safe place and provide the location to your executor and the trustee of any trust.

Update beneficiaries and fiduciaries.

Although most assets are transferred to heirs though a last will and testament or a trust, certain assets utilize beneficiary designations.

These include life insurance policies and retirement accounts.

This means the individuals listed as beneficiaries on these accounts will inherit the assets even if your last will and testament or trust provide otherwise.

Yikes!

To keep things nice and tidy, you should review names to ensure they reflect who you currently want to inherit.

You should also review those who will be serving in fiduciary roles.

Evaluate your life and property insurance coverage.

Property and life insurance policies are beneficial for protecting your loved ones and your assets financially.

Many people often have too much or t00 little coverage.

As you grow your wealth, you may find you have ample liquid assets to provide for your loved ones if you were to die.

Whether you have term or whole life insurance, you should regularly review your coverage to ensure it is sufficient to meet your needs and mitigate your liability.

Provide liquidity for beneficiaries.

The state and federal governments are not known for their speed.

This is also true of the probate court and estate administration.

If your spouse or other heirs need their inheritance quickly, providing some liquid assets to title directly to this individual can allow for immediate access.

Locate and compile important information and account identification.

It can be challenging enough to find a phone you were just using.

Imagine your executor and loved ones trying to locate your assets when settling your estate.

This can be stressful and frustrating.

To tidy up your affairs, you should create a list of your accounts, liabilities, and property with significant value.

You should also provide contact information for each of your financial institutions.

Update this list as necessary.

The more detailed your list, the better.

Look over your digital assets and online accounts.

Because they are not tangible, these assets are easily overlooked.

You should provide information for these assets to your heirs and executors outside of your last will and testament or trust.

By placing passwords and accounts in your last will and testament, anyone could access them because the document becomes public when filed with the court.

Not good.

Instead, you can add a digital asset clause to your estate planning documents.

Write a letter of wishes.

With this letter, you can provide depth to your estate plan.

Through expressing your hopes and intentions to your loved ones, you leave them with a better understanding of your love for them in your estate planning.

While this is not a “legal” document per se, it can go a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings and hard feelings.

Plan to review.

You should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to regularly review your estate plan.

Setting a reminder on your calendar can help you remember to review your finances and your planning.

By taking these steps, you can leave a tidy estate for your loved ones.

Reference: Chicago Business Journal (Dec. 2, 2021) “8 steps to tidy up your estate plan now”

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