Presented by: Bradford & Holliman, Estate Planning
March is “Save Your Vision” month, and your vision for your estate plan may need saving as well. Wills and trusts should not be big secrets. The best way you can make sure that your intended wishes will occur is to make sure your entire cast are onboard and knowledgeable about your intentions and their respective roles. Regardless of your age and wealth, you need an estate plan that is clear (how about 20/20 vision) to you, your spouse, your executor, your accountant, your legal advisor, your financial advisor and your heirs.
Don’t surprise your spouse unpleasantly by your estate plan, especially if you have a blended family with his, hers, and/or our kids. And while you’re at it, make sure your spouse has a clear and up-to-date estate plan as well. Heirs are less likely to contest wills when you explain why you’ve structured your estate plan a certain way. Executors can implement your estate plan more quickly and with less hassle when it has been planned with 20/20 vision. Consider putting together an executor’s file where all the details such as deeds, pension contracts, insurance papers, funeral and burial plans, and all financial accounts are located.
If you already have an estate plan in place, great! Take a fresh look at it as part of your spring sprucing up to make sure it does not need updating. You can usually get away with a good review every three years, but if major changes have occurred, your estate plan should be updated even sooner. Examples of major events are children become adults, financial situations change, bank accounts (and balances) may change, executors may no longer be available, or heirs may have died. Your lawyer, accountant, and financial advisor may point out discrepancies in beneficiary designations once they knew your overall plan.
As the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Make sure you have 20/20 vision for your estate plan and use these tips to get you where you want to go.
-Melanie B. Holliman, JD
Partner at Bradford & Holliman
Estate Planning, Trusts & Special Needs
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