Estate Planning Checkup - Last Will and Testament.

  • Have there been signficant changes in your assets or your family situation since you signed your Last Will and Testament?
  • Are the persons you named as Executor, Guardian for your children, or Trustee still alive and good choices to serve in these roles?
  • If you named Co-Executors, do they get along well or is there likely to be conflict?
  • Does your Will reference a personal property memorandum and if so, have you prepared one?  Where is it?
  • Where do you keep your original Will, who knows where it is, and do you have confidence that it would be found and honored if you die?
  • Do the terms of your Will coordinate well with your “non probate” assets – such as jointly titled properties, TOD  (transfer on death) or POD (pay on death) accounts or assets, life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, and 401(k) accounts?
  • Do you understand what would happen to each asset in the event of your death?  Have you confirmed that your understanding is correct?
  • Do you have step-children and have your wishes regarding them been clearly spelled out in your Will?
  • If you are named in your parents’ planning documents, are their documents current?
  • If you own a business or part of a business, what happens in the event of your death?  Is this determined by your Will or are there business documents that govern?
  • Do you own assets that your heirs or Executor would not know how to handle, such as a valuable collection of personal property items?
  • How old are your estate planning documents, and were they prepared by a qualified professional?

Estate Planning Checkup - Powers of Attorney

  • Do you have either a health care power of attorney or an advance directive for health care?  Are the health care agents you named still alive and good choices?
  • Does your health care agent have a copy of your health care POA or advance directive?
  • Do you have a durable financial power of attorney?  Does your financial power of attorney become effective only if you are incapcitated?  Is the agent still alive and a good choice?  Should you name an alternate agent?
  • Do you have an old power of attorney that needs to be revoked?
  • Do your parents have powers of attorney that are appropriate in light of their health, assets, and family issues?

Estate Planning Checkup – Trusts

  • If you have a trust, do you understand the purpose of the trust?
  • Has your trust been funded or have properties been transferred to the trust as you intended?
  • Do you know what is owned by your trust?
  • Are there changes that need to be made in the Trustee or other trust terms?

Estate Planning Checkup - Beneficiary designations

  • When is the last time you checked your employer’s records, life insurance, and retirement investment accounts to see who your named beneficiaries are?
  • Are your beneficiary designations coordinated with your Last Will and Testament and other planning documents?
  • Do you have copies of the beneficiary designations or printouts in a notebook?

Estate Planning Checkup – Accounts and passwords

  • Do you have online accounts for which you do not receive paper statements?
  • Do  have a complete and current list of accounts, log-ins, and passwords in case of your death or incapacity?  Where is this list and who knows about it?
  • Are there business accounts that someone would need to access in the event of your death or incapacity?

Estate Planning Checkup - Insurance

  • If you have disability, long term care, or life insurance, do you have a copy of each policy, and does your family know where they are?  Do they understand what would be required to be eligible for benefits?
  • Do you have insurance appropriate to your family situation, needs and goals?  Do you understand the policies you have?

In Conclusion

This checkup is not a complete list of questions; it is intended to stimulate your thoughts about your situation and your personal estate plan.  Every individual has specific concerns based on his or her life choices, family relationships, and assets.    Contact the attorneys of  Hindson & Melton LLC or another qualified estate planning firm to create, review, or update your estate plan.  Hindson & Melton LLC serves Metropolitan Atlanta, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and Alpharetta Georgia, as well as Charleston, South Carolina.

© Karen S. Hindson, Hindson & Melton LLC, February 28, 2013