How does your estate plan rate on these fundamental issues?

On behalf of Scaringi Law posted in Estate Planning on Friday, July 31, 2015.

Are you confident that your estate plan is complete and up-to-date? A few simple questions might allow readers to answer this question for themselves.

First, does your estate plan contain more than just a will? If not, consider the time and expense involved with the probate of a will. Including trusts and payable-on-death accounts in your planning may be a smart and easy strategy for minimizing that burden, not to mention the invasion of privacy sometimes associated with a public probate process.

Second, does your estate plan include contingencies for medical emergencies or incapacity? If not, executing a durable power of attorney can be a quick fix for this gap. Of course, care should be given when designating an individual to handle one's business and health-care matters in the event of severe disability or incapacity.

Third, does your estate plan include a revocable living trust? There's practically no downside to this type of trust, as the individual retains complete control over its assets during his or her life. Upon passing, however, the assets in the trust will generally avoid probate.

Finally, does your estate plan account for your most recent lifestyle conditions, including beneficiaries? Parents might become grandparents but forget to update their estate plans. If children have become divorced, transfers to the former spouse might also require updating.

Our law firm focuses on estates and trusts. We know that estate planning is not a one-time-only endeavor. In addition, we have also helped many clients concerned about passing on their ethical values to loved ones, perhaps through a legacy letter. Check out our firm's website to learn more about these and other estate-planning options.

Source: MarketWatch, "Review your estate plan against this 14-point checklist," Art Koff, July 20, 2015

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