Evaluate Your Estate Plan Regularly Make Your Beneficiaries Happy by Lisa Odom

Evaluate Your Estate Plan Regularly: Make Your Beneficiaries Happy

A Consumer Reports study showed that 86% of individuals who had wills as well as other estate documents hadn’t updated them within the last five years. Out-of-date estate plans can create chaos in your family.

A lot can take place in five years. For example, recently Congress made significant modifications to the gift, estate and GST taxes. Your current plan might not thoroughly reap the benefits of these modifications… hurting your family. You may find yourself squandering beneficial exemptions or paying avoidable taxes.

Your family members may also change in five years. Simply by not updating your will, you could unintentionally disinherit new children or grandchildren. Or perhaps the straight-A daughter you selected as successor trustee might develop a gambling obsession. Do you really want her managing your financial affairs? Would it be a good idea to give her an inheritance outright that she can fritter away?

Lastly, your own financial assets change. If you possessed several million dollars’ worth of real estate along with an equivalent sum of Enron stock and gave your real estate to one son and the stock to your other son and didn’t modify your trust after Enron went bankrupt. You unintentionally disinherited your second son.


It’s not sufficient to create a plan and subsequently allow the documents collect dust in your file drawer. Before you realize it, you are going to end up amongst the 86% who hasn’t reviewed their will or trust within five years.

In order to avoid being an “eighty-six percenter,” give your estate plan a yearly examination. Choose a particular date and put it in your personal calendar. Get it done prior to the end of the year, ideally no later than November, so you’ll have plenty of time for making time-sensitive adjustments. A large number of tax-related issues – such as making gifts – have to be accomplished
by the end of the year.

The check-up doesn’t have to take much time – particularly if you and your family didn’t go through significant life events in the past year. However busy families will often have a large number of irons in the fire. And even more issues can take place than you are aware of.

Really encourage your children to perform a yearly check-up as well. Bringing up-to-date a will isn’t typically included on the wedding checklist. But it really ought to be. The fact is that, creating the list of guests… and choosing the coloration of the bouquets normally receives much more particular attention. Nevertheless an estate plan check-up can find any problems so get the young husband and wife into the lawyer’s office.


Reading through your will and trusts will help remind you if anything changed in your life that ought to be addressed for instance Marriages, births, divorces or deaths.

Read through your advanced directives – Are the selected agents still the person you would like them to be?

Look for tax changes – Consult your accountant or lawyer if there have been any kind of modifications to the tax code which could affect your estate plan

Create a net worth statement and approximate your estate tax – This is going to let you determine if it is advisable to modify your estate plan to reduce your taxes.

Evaluate your yearly gifting plan – Make sure you are getting the highest possible benefit of your annual gift-tax exclusion.

Evaluate the ownership of your financial assets – It is possible to title assets you acquire in the improper way.

Evaluate beneficiary designations – The majority of financial accounts have beneficiary designations. Included in this are checking accounts, CDs, savings bonds, brokerage accounts, life insurance policies, higher education savings plans and retirement accounts.
Evaluate your list of tangible personal property – The majority of states permit you to create a list of items of tangible personal property and who receives these at your passing. When your will or trust refers to these types of lists, the lists will control exactly who will get the items. Review these each and every year.

Yearly evaluations will help keep your family’s hard structures updated. They are going to allow you to take full advantage of money-saving strategies which require foresight. They are going to help keep your family members moving forward when confronted with unanticipated deaths and tragedies.

For those who haven’t read through your will in quite a while, bring it out and begin your review today.


McDowell Odom LLP

Lisa Odom