A Minneapolis Estate Planning Lawyer Explains What To Look For When Reviewing Your Estate Plan.
The first post in this series discussed the life events that may necessitate revising your estate plan. In this post, I explain what to look for within each specific document to ensure the plan still meets your needs.
1. Review your Will and/or Trust
Whether you have a Will or a Trust, there are certain provisions you should review to ensure that crucial document still meets your needs. Below, I provide a list of elements of these documents that are most important to review.
a. Personal Representative (also known as the Executor) and Trustee designations
The individuals and/or institution you name should be those you consider responsible and trustworthy. If you designate more than one individual Trustee, consider whether they will be able to work together. In addition, it is a good idea to discuss with them your reasoning for any “out of the ordinary” provisions you may have included in your documents, such as disinheriting a child or making unequal distributions among children.
It is important to regularly review who is designated to receive your property after your death, including any monetary gifts you may make, to ensure you still want that person/institution to receive that gift. Do you still talk to that friend to whom you are giving $5,000? Does your child still owe money on that loan you refer to in your documents? Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it done!
c. Gifts of Specific Property
If there is any specific item of property, such as a family heirloom or jewelry, that you want a particular person to receive, you should update your documents to incorporate that gift. In Minnesota, you may draft a simple document giving personal property – NOT cash or real estate – to a specific person. Before you ask, yes this means a car. So, instead of marking everything in the house with multi-colored stickers, you can draft, sign, and date a document listing the item and person to whom it should be given.
2. Review your Financial Power of Attorney.
This is the document that allows the person you name as agent to handle financial and business matters on your behalf. I tell my clients that this is the most important document in your estate plan as it is valid immediately upon signature. As such, it is essential to review who is named as your agent regularly to ensure that person continues to be someone you trust to deal with your bank accounts, sign your name to documents, etc.
3. Review your Health Care Power of Attorney or Health Care Directive..
Your health care power of attorney appoints one or more individuals to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions yourself and, if you filled it out, communicates to your doctors your wishes for end of life care. Review your health care power of attorney to ensure the persons you have appointed as your attorneys-in-fact are individuals you trust to make major medical decisions for you and who are mature enough to handle that responsibility. It may also be wise to appoint at least one person who lives in the same city or state as you and would be more accessible in case of an emergency. You should also review the wishes you have expressed in your living will for your medical care. As medical standards and procedures evolve, your wishes may evolve as well. If you haven’t already, review and discuss your wishes with your designees.
4. Review the Beneficiary