Estate Planning Awareness Week: Does Your Plan Need a Checkup?

October 17, 2014
Updated on December 1, 2020

This eight-point checklist can help determine whether your estate plan needs help.

National Estate Planning Awareness Week, adopted in 2008 to help the public understand what estate planning is and why it is such a vital component of financial wellness, takes place annually in October and highlights the fact that more than half of Americans—56 percent—do not have proper estate plans in place.

An estate plan, properly executed, can protect you and your family in the event of sickness, accident, or untimely death. With just a little advanced planning, you can help your family avoid wasted dollars and unnecessary hardship.

Even if you have an estate plan in place, it should be reviewed on a regular basis. Federal and state laws are constantly changing the estate planning rulebook. In fact, there have been several major estate and income tax law changes in recent years. An out-of-date estate plan might be missing valuable planning opportunities and could cost your family dearly in extra taxes and administration costs.

Do you have an estate plan in place? Does it cover all of your bases? Take a look at the list below. If you answer “no” or “I don’t know” to any of the questions, you should set up an appointment with an estate planner as soon as possible. To find an estate planner near you, click here.

  • Do you have a will or trust in place? If so, has it been professionally reviewed within the last two years?
  • Do you have a healthcare power of attorney that permits a person of your choosing to make emergency healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so?
  • Are you certain that your current estate plan will minimize possible state and federal estate taxes at your death, including taxes on your house, life insurance, and retirement accounts?
  • Have you taken steps to avoid possible will contests and disputes during the administration of your estate?
  • Are you satisfied with the persons you have named as guardians of your minor children in your current estate plan?
  • Does your current estate plan provide creditor and lawsuit protection for assets passed to your surviving spouse or children?
  • If you have a revocable living trust in place as part of your estate plan, is your trust fully funded so your family can avoid the delays and expenses of probate? (Probate is the court process by which a will or trust is deemed valid or invalid. The legal fees and other expenses involved when an estate goes through probate are deducted from the value of the estate.)
  • Does your estate plan protect your children’s inheritance in the event your surviving spouse chooses to remarry?

Again, if you answer “no” or “I don’t know” to any of these questions, contact an estate planner to talk about your needs. To find an estate planner near you, click here.

Living Trust, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Will, Estate Planning
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