Has it been a while since you've reviewed your estate plans? Did you get your plans drawn up a decade ago, throw the paperwork in a drawer and forget about it?
That's a mistake. Estate plans have to be revisited from time to time to make sure that they still accomplish the things you want them to do. If it has been a while since you've reviewed your estate plans, grab your journal or calendar and put the following tasks on your "To-Do" list right away:
1. Check your beneficiary designations.
When is the last time you looked at who is set to inherit how much from each insurance policy or other financial assets?
2. Look over asset ownership.
Is it time to add a joint owner on some of your assets? Should you designate a "beneficiary in event of death" on your bank accounts or car? If you want to make it easy for your loved ones, make sure they can take over critical items with the fewest hassles.
3. Review your burial plans.
Did you even make any burial plans? If you made your estate plan when you were younger, you may not have clearly thought out how you want your earthly remains handled. It's time to put it in writing and consider pre-paying for the services you want if you expect to remain in the same location for the remainder of your life.
4. Consider a revocable trust.
If you have a revocable trust, is it properly funded? Are all the assets you've acquired since you built your estate plan geared toward that trust? If you never considered a trust, maybe it's time to do so in order to spare your heirs some significant taxes.
5. Update your powers of attorney.
The person you chose to handle your financial and medical needs 10 or 20 years ago may no longer be the best choice. It's time to reconsider who should be making the big decisions when the time comes.
Estate planning can be confusing -- but you don't have to manage all of your plans on your own. Get some experienced advice about how to best accomplish your end-of-life goals.