Estate Planning Review Recommendations in the Pandemic

Many people are taking this time at home during the COVID-19 crisis to update their estate plan. Here are six critical estate plan components you should focus on, in light of the current pandemic.

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Forbes April article entitled 6 Parts Of Your Estate Plan You Should Review Now? discusses several estate planning issues that should be reviewed, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

In this pandemic, who will make important financial and medical decisions for you, if you’re unable to make them for yourself? Have you covered all the bases and spent some time reviewing documents with your estate planning attorney?

Make certain that you’ve designated a person who is trustworthy and reliable. Don’t forget to name a back-up for your power of attorney and health care proxy.

Approach estate planning as a blueprint for action. Starting with one of the more basic documents, the Will. Remember that typically a Will is not used as the central document of more sophisticated estate plans, but Wills still have importance if you have minor children. Double check that you named a guardian for them in the will, and that your selection is still appropriate.

Review your Trust. Your Trust is likely the most important document in the estate plan and, as such, will largely control how the inheritance sorts out when there is a death. Nearly all estate plans with McManus Estate Planning LLC are based around one or more trusts. This is to take advantage of the many legal and tax benefits often available with advanced planning. Double check that the Trust makes sense to you and you understand its terms. Ensure that the people named in it are still accurate. Double check the inheritance distributions you selected for who will receive the assets at your death. If your beneficiaries are minors or not mature enough to handle a sizable sum, you might hold assets for them in trust, until they’re old enough to handle the money themselves. Review your decision regarding your trustee and see that this is the right person to administer the Trust, based on your wishes. When in doubt, schedule a formal estate review with Attorney McManus.

Be sure to fund the Trust. “Funding” the Trust merely means attaching assets to it. This is primarily the responsibility of the client and their financial advisor. In other words, transferring assets to the Trust, or, making the Trust a beneficiary of appropriate assets. This will help avoid probate of the assets on your death, minimize the involvement of an estate planning lawyer after a death, and lets the successor trustee control the assets for your benefit, if you’re incapacitated. If you fail to do so, it will create a host of problems after you’re gone. Your heirs will need court authority to access your assets, which can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.

Update your beneficiary designations. This includes the beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies, retirement accounts and any brokerage accounts that are payable on death to a beneficiary.

Finally, ask Attorney McManus about how estate planning can take advantage of estate tax opportunities and gifting options. The current economic conditions present an ideal planning opportunity for the well-advised client.

It is important to have everything in order in the pandemic and Reference: Forbes (April 15, 2020) 6 Parts Of Your Estate Plan You Should Review Now