Review your estate plan basics

The Covid-19 pandemic has offered a great reminder to review the elements of your estate plan.

Below are some key items to consider. Set up a call with your estate planning lawyer to consider any specific details related to your own plan.

Review your health care proxy and power of attorney: Be sure you are comfortable with your choices of who will make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. For each, have a back-up in place in case the first person is unavailable. Now is the time to have new documents created if yours no longer apply. These choices apply for any decisions made for you while you are still alive.

Revise your will: Decide whether you want to keep the executor you have named for your estate, and make sure you name a back-up. This person will be responsible for validating your will when you die, handling your affairs and filing your income and estate tax returns. Be sure you have included a guardian for any minor children, as well as back-up for that guardian.

Review your trust: Take a look at the beneficiaries of your trust. Decide whether you want them to be given the income outright or over time, or if you want to have the funds held for them in a trust, especially if the beneficiaries are minors. Ensure that you feel good about your choice of trustee, whether it is an individual, such as your attorney or accountant, or a corporate entity, such as a bank.

Make sure your trust is funded: It is helpful for you to fund your trust while you are alive, because that way your assets can be managed to support you while you’re alive if you are unable to make decisions on your own. It also avoids a court’s involvement to administer the trust after your death.

Review your beneficiaries on all of your accounts: These include retirement accounts, brokerage accounts and life insurance policies. Any joint assets, such as a bank account, will pass to the surviving owner.

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