I’ve signed my estate plan documents. I’m finally done! … right?

Friday, Aug 25 2017 03:49 PM


What do I do with my documents?

Some attorneys, CPAs or financial planners will offer to keep your original documents in their office.  Otherwise, those documents should be kept in a safe place in your home or in a safe deposit box.  If you use a safe deposit box, make sure that someone else is named on the box and knows where the key is in case of an emergency.

Make sure that your family members and the trustee know where the documents are and what is in them.  Discuss the plan with your family now so there are no surprises and the family knows why you are making those decisions.

Distribute copies of your health care directives to your primary care doctor and the agents you have listed in the document.  This document expresses your wishes for end-of-life decisions if you can’t make them on your own.  It’s a good plan to talk to your agents on the health care directive about the details and the circumstances such as:

  • Do you want life support?
    Do you want your organs donated?
    Do you want to be buried or cremated?
    Do you have your funeral paid for?
    Where are the documents?

What else do I have to do?

Change the title on all of your assets.  Most of the attorneys who do estate planning will help you change the name on your real estate assets.  Make sure you do it on the rest of your assets.

For instance, you will need to go to your financial institutions and brokers to get the title changed on your accounts to the name of the trust.  As long as you have a Revocable Living Trust, you will be able to keep the accounts in your own Social Security number.  Otherwise, you will need to obtain an EIN (employer identification number) from the IRS.

Review your beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, pension and retirement plans to make sure they agree with your estate plan and do not include a deceased or divorced spouse.

Organize your paperwork

To make things easier for yourself and others, consider organizing your documents at this time.  Make a list and file the documents together for:

  • Life insurance policies
    Pensions or retirement accounts
    Bank accounts along with monthly statements
    Bank location of safe deposit boxes along with the key and a list of items in the box
    Professional advisers
    Last three years of tax returns

Now can I relax and forget about the estate plan?

Change is guaranteed in life and your estate plan is really a work in progress.  Changes can include:

  • A new child or grandchild
    Death of a spouse, child or the trustee
    A family member becomes disabled
    Marriage or divorce
    Tax laws change
    Finances change dramatically

When you have changes like the ones above, please have your plan reviewed by your attorney.

Getting your original estate plan done is an amazing achievement.  Now, take a few more steps to make sure that the whole plan is in place and working before you actually need it.

by Marcia L. Campbell has worked as a CPA for 25 years specializing in seniors, trusts, estates, court accountings and probate litigation support. 

article attributes : http://www.pe.com/2017/08/19/women-on-money-and-mindset-ive-signed-my-estate-plan-documents-im-finally-done-right/