Mid-Year Estate Planning Checklist

We’re halfway through 2024, and it’s a good time to assess how well you’re meeting any estate planning goals you set at the beginning of the year. 

Keeping your estate plan in order is worth it. By ensuring that your health, your family, and your assets are taken care of in the future in the way that you’d like them to be, you can have greater peace of mind and confidence for the days ahead. 

Top Ten Mid-Year Estate Planning Tasks 

  1. Create a Will or Revocable Trust if you don’t have one. If one of your goals was to finally start the estate planning process, now is a good time to schedule a consultation on a Will, Revocable Living Trust, or other estate planning strategies. Be sure to come prepared with some basic information that your estate attorney will need to begin the process. 
  2. Update your Will or revocable trust. Make sure any existing Wills, trusts, and other estate planning mechanisms are up to date. It’s good practice to revisit your estate planning documents if it’s been more than three years since you updated them or if you’ve experienced significant life changes since your last update. 
  3. Make financial gifts. If you were planning to gift assets to others, now is a good time to do so. Recent graduates, for example, will appreciate financial gifts as they prepare for their next phase. Remember: you can gift up to $18,000 per individual each year without needing to file a gift tax return. 
  4. Complete a Power of Attorney (POA) and an Advance Directive for Healthcare so that others can help you if you become incapacitated. If you have an existing POA and Advance Directive, revisit these documents if it’s been three years or so since they were updated. Financial institutions often decline to honor old POAs. 
  5. Update beneficiary designations. It’s important to coordinate how your assets pass with your intended estate plan. Make sure your beneficiary designations are up to date for assets you wish to pass outright. Having out of date beneficiary designations can result in the wrong parties, such as former spouses or stepchildren, receiving your assets instead of your intended heirs. 
  6. Plan charitable gifts to make this year. In addition to creating social capital that will become part of your legacy, proper planning can help you realize very favorable tax treatment for gifts made during your lifetime. 
  7. Review how your assets are titled. To ensure that assets pass as you intend when you die, it’s important to make sure that titles and deeds are set up correctly. For example, if you want your house to pass automatically to your spouse when you die, the deed or other asset title document must state that you hold the asset as joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS). 
  8. Create a Letter of Instructions (LOI). An LOI is a document that contains all the information that your fiduciaries will need to know if you become incapacitated or when you eventually die. The LOI can include details about bank accounts, the bills you pay, insurance policies, and other “housekeeping” items.  
  9. Review real estate. If you own or plan to purchase real property, such as a house, condo, or land, in a state outside your home state, be aware of its implications for your estate planning. A Will must be probated in every state in which you own real property. Placing property in a revocable trust doesn’t require probate and is a way to avoid administrative costs and hassles after you pass away. 
  10. Consider creating an Ethical Will. As a complement to your other estate planning documents, an Ethical Will allows you to document the values, beliefs, experiences, and wisdom you’ve gained during your lifetime and pass this legacy on to future generations. 

If you’re thinking, “I need to find an estate attorney near me who can help me accomplish these things,” the experienced team at Morgan & DiSalvo serves clients all over the Metro Atlanta area and would be pleased to schedule a consultation with you to discuss your unique concerns. Please call (678) 720-0750 or email info@morgandisalvo.com. 

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