Congratulations on taking the important step of setting up your estate plan. An estate plan is a vital planning tool and it should allow you to rest easy. However, having the estate plan is just the first step. In order to make your estate plan as useful and robust as possible, you should also consider the following:
Review all beneficiary designations.
Some assets pass directly to beneficiaries through beneficiary designations. These assets include retirement benefits, life insurance, annuities, etc. If you have this type of asset, you have to review the paperwork you filled out when you established the asset or reach out to the financial institution and get that information. Ensure that the beneficiary designations make sense with your estate plan.
Gather and organize all assets and important personal information.
I created a Personal Asset Inventory tool that will help you organize all of your vital information such as bank accounts, social security numbers, bills, and passwords. Not only will this assist in getting organized, but it is vitally important if someone else (such as your financial power of attorney) has to step in and manage your assets on your behalf. You can download a free copy of the Personal Asset Inventory at the bottom of my website homepage.
Ensure your trusted family and friends know where your documents are located!
What good is a plan if no one knows where it is? Tell someone where the documents are located and how to find them in the case of an emergency. Check out this blog post I did all about where to store your documents.
Talk to a financial planner.
Estate planning documents are just one piece of a comprehensive estate plan. Another huge piece to that puzzle is a financial planner. A planner can review your assets and income and help you make decisions about what should go where (how much to save for college and/or retirement, debt to pay off, how much life insurance to buy, etc.). Russ Ford, a certified financial planner in Broad Ripple, recently wrote a great guest post on how a financial planner can add value to your estate plan.
Review your plan every 3-5 years.
Your estate plan will serve you well for years, even decades, but you should review it every few years to ensure it still meets your needs. Are the individuals you named as guardian for your children still able and willing to serve in that role? Did you move to a new state? Did you have more children? All of these big life changes may trigger updates to your plan. Unsure if you need an update? Reach out to your attorney!