ESTATE MANAGEMENT CHECKLIST

A robust estate plan consists of several documents, but also includes where to keep them and notifying people you intend to rely on (such as an executor). We encourage you to prepare an estate management checklist, to be as prepared as you can in the future.

Do you have a will? A will allows you to choose where your belongings and property are dispersed and allows you to grant guardianship of your children to someone.

Do you have all of your healthcare documents together? Healthcare documents will allow for an authorized person to make decisions on your behalf, with the aid of your documents to spell out your wishes. Documents may include a living will, power of attorney agreement, or a durable power of attorney agreement for healthcare.

Have you filed your beneficiary forms? In the event of your death, you may need to have a named beneficiary to allow your bank and retirement accounts to disperse funds as “payable upon death” to the beneficiary.

Do you have the right type and amount of life insurance? Be sure to regularly assess your life insurance coverage, and keep in mind that your age, health, and type and amount of insurance will all affect the cost of your life insurance. Consider whether you are even insurable before setting up a strategy that involves life insurance. If the policy is surrendered early, the holder may have to pay back charges and have tax implications.

Have you considered how to manage your federal estate taxes? If you and your spouse have more than $22.8 million in assets, you should take steps to prepare for federal estate taxes. These are due upon the death of the second spouse.

When was the last time you prepared your business for your death? Do you have a plan for the succession of the business? If it is owned with others, you should consider creating a buyout agreement.

Have you created a letter of instruction? These are non-legal documents that outline your wishes. Although non-legal, they can help guide your heirs and save time, effort, and expense as your estate is being managed.

Can your heirs easily locate your important documents? Your heirs will likely need a variety of the following documents. Make sure you leave them in a place that your heirs will know about, and include any passwords or access instructions. Documents to locate include:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Deeds (Real Estate, Stocks, Bonds, Annuities)
  • Financial Accounts
  • Safe Deposit Boxes
  • Retirement Plans
  • Debt Information
Note: Power of attorney laws can vary from state to state. An estate strategy that includes trusts may involve a complex web of tax rules and regulations. Consider working with a knowledgeable estate management professional before implementing such strategies.

This content is intended as general information on a topic of interest and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. The information in this material may not be used for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties, nor is it to be considered legal or tax advice. For specific information suitable to your individual circumstances, please consult FSG. Copyright 2021 FSG.