Here are our Top 7 Tips for Estate Planning this year:

  1. Review K-1s and 1099s. These documents should show your trust or you as trustee or its abbreviation “TR.”  If not, the asset is most likely title in your individual name and should be transferred to the trust.  This is especially true if the asset or account is held in another state or country.
  2. Review life insurance policies. Make sure premiums are paid, addresses are current and beneficiary designations are in line with your estate plan.  Consider adding a second to die policy to cover any anticipated increase in estate taxes at the end of 2025.
  3. Review Healthcare Powers of Attorney. Is the primary person named the person you want to make medical decisions on your behalf? Are successors named and in the correct order?
  4. Review Personal Representatives and Trustees. Similarly, is the primary person or entity correctly named and the proper person to administer your financial affairs? Are successors correctly named? Financial institutions are constantly changing their names and exiting the business. For example, in 2020 USAA transferred its wealth management operations to Charles Schwab. Updating the names of your successors will speed the administration of your trust and estate for your beneficiaries.
  5. Review retirement accounts beneficiary designations. Recent changes to the taxation of distributions make certain “conduit trusts” outdated. These changes are more nuanced and we should schedule a 30 minute call to insure your beneficiary designations and trust terms meet your objectives.
  6. Consider accelerating gifts to use lifetime estate and gift tax exemptions. Those persons over the age of 80 with assets in excess of the estate and gift tax exemption limits should be considering how and when to use their remaining exemption before changes are considered or made by  Congress.  Gifts in trust for spouses and children continue to be popular techniques.
  7. Update emergency contacts and plans. Documenting who to contact and what steps to take will ease the transition and reduce stress on your death or disability.