Hey folks, it’s that time of the year! At this point, I’ve already filled a few notepads with my checklist of things to do before the calendar flips to 2024–and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone! Whether it’s about your to-do’s for the holiday festivities, pending work items, or your usual end-of-year house chores, these checklists are like our personal battle plans for saying goodbye to the year that was and welcoming the year that’s to come.
If you have an estate plan, make sure you’re armed with your notepad of estate planning to-do’s, too! That’s right–before the year ends, it’s important that we revisit our plans and make the necessary tweaks to ensure that we (and our estate plans!) smoothly transition into 2024.
With that, let’s wrap up 2023 with this year-end estate planning checklist!
Update your inventory of assets.
For sure, your asset portfolio has undergone changes during the year. Whether you’ve welcomed new additions (purchased a piece of real estate or been left an inheritance, perhaps?) or disposed of some properties, your inventory of assets should be updated to align with these significant changes in your pool of assets. Especially if there are major additions, updating your inventory of assets (and the corresponding estate planning documents!) effectively avoids probate and other unintended costs–which could be your reason for entering an estate plan in the first place.
(Does "inventory" or "portfolio" sound too fancy or complicated? Seriously, just make sure you're organized and have a list. That's it!)
Reassess your named beneficiaries.
Similarly, significant events may have unfolded during the year that would necessitate taking a closer look at your beneficiary designations—and updating them. It could be a joyous arrival of a new family member, shifts in relationship status, or a sad loss of a loved one… Or it could be that your named beneficiary’s needs have changed over time! These moments should be taken into account as you update your beneficiary designations.
Review your POAs.
Relatedly, any significant changes in your financial situation, assets, and family dynamics have implications in your designated POA. These events may warrant adjustments to your powers of attorney, or the creation of new ones altogether. Of course, during the year, your well-being has evolved, too. If you have a healthcare POA in place, it’s important to check whether it still aligns with your current situation.
Talk to your loved ones.
With all these updates you’ll incorporate in your plan, open communication with your loved ones is key! Discussing changes in the components of your estate plan ensures that your intentions are clearly understood and will be respected, specifically by those involved.
Communicate changes with your estate planning attorney.
Of course, don’t forget to update your estate planning lawyer! In fact, it’s recommended that you actively involve her in the process, as her expertise would be especially helpful as you modify your estate plan. Remember, your estate plan is a compilation of mostly legal documents. Necessarily, your lawyer–your valuable resource of legal insight–should be able to guide you with all the changes you’re making, particularly with all the legal nuances that come with it.
Wishing you a happy holidays,