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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Back to School Checklist #2: Get Your Estate Plan in Order

On last week’s blog, I shared some easy, practical tips on how to get organized prior to the upcoming school year (See Part 1 Here). 

Today, I’ve included some reminders & advice on how to get your estate plan in order, before your schedule fills up and procrastination sets in!

Back to School Checklist #2:  Get Your Estate Plan in Order

If you don’t have an Estate Plan- Get Started! 

Of course, this checklist would not be complete unless we addressed the need for establishing an estate plan!   

If you haven’t gotten around to starting your estate planning -there’s no time like the present!  Once the school year starts, things will only get busier & busier.  Take advantage of the last few weeks left to organize your planning.

If you already have an Estate Plan… Review & Refine

Just like a car, or a person, an estate plan requires some maintenance. 

Most types of “estate planning” trusts (i.e. “family trusts”, “living trusts”, revocable trusts”) can be updated relatively easily, via an amendment (a few changes) or by a restatement (many changes)

Items that may prompt a change to your estate plan:
  • Beneficiaries and Trustees – Changes will definitely be necessary if you’re updating any of your decision makers in your plan, or if you’re changing the beneficiaries (people/percentages/etc.).
  • Check on Your Funding:Your Trust is only as good as what’s actually IN it, so be sure to check to make sure your assets have been properly transferred!
  • Real Estate:If your trust owns your real property, any changes to the property ownership must be provided for in the trust to insure proper recording and title.  A more common issue is newly acquired property. In 2017, 5.51 million existing homes and 612,000 newly constructed homes were sold, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (source).  
  • New Purchases & Property Refinances:Remember, a properly funded trust will avoid probate issues!  If you purchase new property, titling the property in the name of the trust is essential…  If the property is not titled in the name of the trust, you may run into some issues!  If you are thinking of acquiring new property or you have recently, meet with your estate planning attorney to make the proper changes!
  • As Your Trust Grows, Consider Asset Protection – Reassessing your financial position and the protections afforded to your assets in your current trust is vital!  If you have accumulated more wealth or assets in the past year, there are many planning tools to maximize asset protection.  Asset protection trusts are amongst the most popular because of their high-level of security and their ease in establishing (read more about asset protection here).  If you are finding yourself wondering how to allocate newly acquired assets, it may be time to add to your estate plan!

Set an annual reminder to look up your trust documents and make any changes needed as life continues to transpire!

As always, it’s wise to re-visit these topics continuously throughout the year.  While your student is immersing themselves into a new academic journey, take this time to reflect on & refine your long-term and short-term goals, organize them, and turn those goals into plans!    

 

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”  Marian Wright Edelman

 

-by Laura Bown, J.D. with Tiffany Ballenger Floyd, Esq. (Nevada & California Estate Planning Attorney), © 2019, Phillips Ballenger, PLLC


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