When it comes to drafting a will and other estate planning documents, note that you probably should revisit them many times before they actually are needed, advises, CNBC’s recent article entitled “Be sure to keep your will or estate plan updated. Here are 3 key reasons why.” But what needs to be reviewed in an estate plan?
You should give these end-of-life legal papers a review at least every few years, unless there are reasons to do it more often. Things like marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child should necessitate a review. Coming into a lot of money (i.e., inheritance, lottery win, etc.) or moving to another state where estate laws differ from the one where your will was originally drawn up, mean that you should review your plan with an experienced estate planning attorney.
About 46% of U.S. adults have a will, according to a 2021 Gallup poll. If you are among those who have a will or full-blown estate plan, below are some things to review and why.
Even though your will is all about you, there are other people you need to rely on to carry out your wishes. This makes it important to review who you have named to be executor. He or she must liquidate accounts, ensure your assets go to the proper beneficiaries, pay any debts not discharged (i.e., taxes owed), and sell your home. You should also be sure that the guardian you have named to care for your children is still the person you would want in that position.
As part of estate planning, you may create other documents related to end-of-life issues, such as powers of attorney. The person who is given this responsibility for decisions related to your health care is frequently different from whom you would name to handle your financial affairs. You should look at both of those choices.
Even if you have experienced no major life events, those you previously chose to handle certain duties may no longer be your best option.
Remember that some assets pass outside of the will, including retirement accounts like a 401(k) plan, IRAs and life insurance policies. This means the person named as a beneficiary on those accounts will generally receive the money no matter what your will states. Bank accounts can have beneficiaries listed on a pay-on-death form, which your bank can supply.
If a beneficiary is not listed on those non-will items or the named person has already passed away (and there is no contingent beneficiary listed), the assets automatically go into probate.
Reference: CNBC (Jan. 27, 2022) “Be sure to keep your will or estate plan updated. Here are 3 key reasons why”
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