By Jeffrey R. Wolfe, Senior Vice President, Manager of Wealth Planning StrategiesPrint This Post
National Estate Planning Awareness week has come around again. This is a week founded by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils. The goal of the week is to remind everyone of the importance of having a comprehensive estate plan. Whether we like it or not, we all need to plan for our incapacity and our own demise. To support this cause Benjamin F. Edwards will provide a three-part blog series this week regarding various planning issues.
For our first installment we will focus on the need to review and organize your plan. Whether you’ve proactively created one or not, you have an estate plan. Choosing beneficiaries on your IRA, 401(k) or insurance policies is an estate planning decision. Moreover, even if you don’t have a will or trust, your state has made decisions on where your assets will go when you pass away. Did you know most states have a default plan that if you are married with children that at your death that your spouse and your children will split your estate? Assuming everything may pass to your spouse may not be what your state has decided for you.
Consequently, you need to review what type of planning you have in place. If you haven’t created a will or trust plan, you need to consider taking action. You should review any IRA, insurance or work retirement plan beneficiary designations to make sure they are accurate and up to date. This includes primary beneficiary designations and contingent designations. Even if you think you have everything taken care of, if you haven’t reviewed your entire plan in the last two years, you may be in for a surprise. There have been significant changes in the estate tax rules that may have modified your plan without you realizing it.
Another thing to consider while you’re reviewing your plan is to make sure you have everything organized for your beneficiaries. Let people know where you store your paperwork. Think about sharing detailed information with the folks you have designated as a power of attorney or executor/trustee so that they know that they may be called into duty. Make sure you document your professional relationships (CPA, attorney, financial advisor, etc.) so that when the time comes your successors will know where to start.
If you want help, work with your Benjamin F. Edwards financial advisor, along with your CPA, tax advisor and/or your estate planning attorney to make sure you have the proper planning in place. Consider using our Estate and Financial Organizer to get started. By maintaining your plan and keeping it in order, you can assure your legacy goals can be achieved.
This piece is intended to provide accurate information regarding the subject matter discussed. It is made available with the understanding that Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or tax preparation services. Specific questions on taxes or legal matters as they relate to your individual situation should be directed to your tax or legal professional.