Six Point Year End Checklist for Your Estate Plan

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Can you believe it is already December and 2018 is coming to a close? As we approach the end of the year, it is time to start thinking about updating your existing estate plan. Or, if you have yet to form one, now is a great time to do so. We often find that clients look at their estate plan during the initial formation yet tend to not update the documents when life changes occur. Wishes can definitely change, and what you once wanted for your assets is not necessarily how you feel years later.  

We recommend taking the time at the end of each year to review your documents, see if they are still meeting your needs, and contact us if you want to make any updates.  

Here are just some of the items to consider: 

1. Your Successor Trustee

If you have a trust, the successor trustee is the individual who you have named to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated or pass away. It is an important role, and one that requires absolute trust in the person you have given that power to.  

The successor trustee will be responsible for distributing and managing the assets held in your trust, collecting any insurance policies and retirement accounts that name your revocable living trust as the beneficiary, and paying any expenses associated with administering your trust until all of the trust assets have been distributed.  

2. Family Changes.

Consider if there have been any marriages, divorces, births or deaths in the family since you last looked at your estate planning documents. You may want to remove anyone from your will or trust who is no longer a part of your family. On the other hand, if there has been a joyous family addition, you may want to add a beneficiary, such as a new grandchild or in-law. For example, with little ones, many clients state in their documents that they would like their funds to be spent on the child’s health and education first and foremost. 

3. Family Dynamics.

It is not uncommon for there to be some discord in a family. If this is something you are experiencing in your own family, and you feel it is major enough to affect your wishes, you will want to contact an experience estate planning attorney, like the ones at Kira Doyle Law, to update your estate plan. If there is discord between the mother and father of a child named in your documents, you will want to make sure your instructions and asset intentions regarding this child are clear. 

4. Legal Guardians for Minor Children.

You will want to double check that the legal guardians you have nominated for your minor children are still the individual(s) you would want to be in that role. This role can be temporary or permanent. The individual(s) acting in either role will take care of your children should you become unable to do so.  

5. Funding Your Trust.

If you have a trust, have you finished properly funding that trust? This includes re-titling bank accounts, businesses, stocks, and some types of real estate to the name of your revocable trust.  

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6. Year-End Gifts.

Any monetary gift you would like to give to a family member or friend must be made prior to December 31. It is tax free to give up to $15,000.00 to any one individual. If you do not exceed the $15,000.00 cap, this monetary gift is not required to be reported to the IRS.  

Does this list have your wheels turning? Have you identified changes you want to make to your estate planning documents? Contact us today so we can help.  

 
 

Ask a St. Petersburg Estate Planning Attorney for Assistance

The experienced estate planning attorneys at Kira Doyle Law can guide you through the process of updating your estate plan to make sure your wishes are still being heard and your assets remain protected. Start by calling our St. Petersburg office at 727-537-6818 to schedule an appointment today!

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Estate PlanningKira Doyle