By: Katina H. Pantazis, Esq.

Published at

20 October 2023

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Comprehensive Estate Planning Checklist 2024

“A well-designed, comprehensive estate plan requires gathering information and documentation prior to meeting with your qualified wills and trusts attorney.”

Not only is gathering information in the initial phase of the development of your plan important, but it is also imperative to re-visit your estate plan regularly to ensure it will carry out your wishes in the face of life changes or uncertainties.

We recommend that our clients revisit their estate plan annually to ensure it remains in line with their current circumstances and wishes, as life changes occur regularly.

Below you will find a checklist to assist your qualified estate planning, wills, and trusts attorney in guiding you through the process of reviewing your Comprehensive estate planning.

1) Updated Information –

All essential information in your estate plan should be kept up to date. You’ll want to verify contact information for parties and beneficiaries, and even details regarding your appointed personal representative, trustee, or agents, as something as simple as an agent moving out of state could impact your documentation. Current information should be maintained and updated as necessary.

2) Legal Documentation –

All estate planning documentation should be reviewed by a qualified wills and trusts attorney annually to ensure compliance with current laws and rules. This documentation includes your Last wills and testaments, Trust, Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, and Declaration of Pre-Need Guardian, just to name a few. Your attorney can also verify that all documentation has been signed and is in conformity with laws surrounding the proper execution of each instrument.

3) Overall Goals of Estate Plan –

We recommend that you discuss your overall goals so your attorney can ensure these goals are addressed, and ultimately carried out with your estate plan.

4) Family Dynamics –

Oftentimes, shifts in family dynamics, such as deaths, births, marriages, and even divorces, require that estate planning documentation be updated. Make notes of any changes so you can be sure to discuss them with your qualified estate planning, wills, and trusts attorney.

5) Distribution of Assets and Beneficiaries –

We recommend reviewing your beneficiaries and determining how you’d like your assets to be distributed upon your passing. Births, deaths, marriages, and divorces may require updates to your estate planning documentation. Where beneficiaries have been designated directly on bank accounts, brokerage accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and the like, we recommend clients obtain written confirmation of the beneficiary designations and retain said written confirmation in their estate planning documentation.

6) Personal Representatives, Trustees, and Agents –

We also recommend that clients review the individuals appointed as personal representatives, trustees, and agents to carry out various tasks in the estate planning documentation. Clients must confirm these individuals are in a position to effectively carry out their duties under each document.

7) Guardianships for Minor Children –

Where clients have minor children, we recommend that they review their selected guardian to confirm that the individual remains the best choice to care for the children if this becomes necessary.

8) Assets and Liabilities –

We always recommend that clients maintain a current list of assets and also note any outstanding liabilities or debts. Be sure to advise your trusts and wills Attorneys of any newly acquired assets, such as real estate, or newly opened accounts, such as bank accounts and brokerage accounts, to ensure these are incorporated into your estate plan. Failing to maintain a current inventory of your assets and liabilities can compromise your estate plan.

9) Real Estate –

We recommend that clients provide our office with deeds to any properties owned in their names, either individually or jointly, to confirm the property will pass per the client’s wishes.

10) Digital Assets and Online Accounts –

We also recommend that clients maintain a current list of digital assets and online accounts. These include digital wallets and even social media accounts.

11) Business Interests –

Where clients own businesses or interests therein, their wills and trusts attorney should review the plan for management or transference of the assets to confirm their intentions will be carried out.

12) Maintaining Password Database –

We recommend that clients maintain a list of their login information for every account or asset they own. This list should be kept in a safe location, such as a fire safe. This list should be reviewed and updated regularly, with any changes in password information noted.

13) Durable Power of Attorney –

We recommend that clients review the agents nominated in their power of attorney documentation to confirm their financial affairs will be managed according to their current intentions.

14) Designation of Health Care Surrogate and Living Will –

We recommend that clients review the agents nominated in their healthcare directives to confirm they accurately reflect the client’s current wishes for medical decisions.

15) Estate Tax Considerations –

We strongly recommend that clients confer with a qualified tax professional about changes in tax laws that may affect their estate plan.

16) Financial and Legal Professionals –

We always recommend that clients confirm all professionals who participated in creating their estate plan are still practicing and available to assist with carrying out their wishes.

As previously discussed, a comprehensive estate plan must be adjusted to account for life changes and client preferences. An estate plan requires regular attention and maintenance to ensure client wishes are carried out effectively. We strongly recommend working with a qualified team of professionals, including an estate planning, wills, and trusts attorney, to navigate the complexities surrounding preserving your legacy.

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Disclosure: The information contained in this website and blog is of a general nature and is not intended in any way to answer individual legal questions. If you have a legal question concerning your individual circumstances, please contact our firm to schedule a conference with one of our experienced attorneys. Your review of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor any legal privileges relating thereto. Offices in Ocala and Sebring.

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