When reviewing your estate plan, keep these things in mind:
1. Your estate plan only works if your assets are owned property. If you have acquired new assets (or sold assets you had at the time your made your plan) since your plan was last updated, you will need to update your trust Schedule A (which lists out your assets and retitle the newly acquired assets.
2. Be sure those named as guardians for your children, executors of your estate or trustees are still the right people for the job. In addition, be sure you execute a Guardian Nomination which will provide you with the important legal tools you need to name short- and long-term guardians, provide instructions and guidelines for those guardians and execute medical powers of attorney that allow you to dictate medical care for your minor children in case they are injured when you are not with them.
3. Determine if the terms of your estate plan still meet your objectives, and that the beneficiaries and your bequests are still relevant. Be sure to look at whether you are leaving assets to your beneficiaries in a lifetime asset protection trust that ensures what you pass on is protected from future divorce, creditors, and lawsuits.
5. Confirm that all beneficiary designations for retirement plans, insurance policies and financial accounts are correct. Never name a minor as a beneficiary (or contingent beneficiary) of an insurance policy or retirement account to avoid a guardianship for the minor child.
6. Be sure your choice of health care agent is still the right one and that all the proper documents, including a HIPAA authorization, have been executed to allow them to make health care decisions for you in case of incapacitation. Also, consider adding provisions to your health care directive that provide for HOW you want to be cared for,, not just who you want making your decisions.
7. If you plan to make gifts to individuals, see if you are taking full advantage of the maximum annual exclusion, which is $15,000 in 2018.
8. If you make large gifts to charity, you may want to consider making split-interest gifts that provide an income tax deduction while preserving an interest in property to heirs.
9. If you have already used a majority of your federal gift tax exemption, you may want to consider other strategies to move taxable assets out of your estate.
10. Talk to your estate planning attorney about other estate planning strategies to take advantage of your generation-skipping transfer tax or remaining federal gift tax exemptions.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.