It's a busy time of year and business owners and operators are focused on year-end tasks while families are planning for holidays and gatherings. Take a deep breath and think about the health of your family's estate plan or your own business succession plan.
Here are five key estate planning items that you should review before New Year’s Eve:
#1: Have there been changes in federal or state laws or regulations that may impact your planning strategy?
For instance, are you aware of this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Clark v. Rameker, and the impact that this ruling may have on inherited IRAs? There may be other changes that could impact your existing plan.
#2: Have you experienced a significant change in your lifestyle? Or have other loved ones such as aging parents noted significant lifestyle changes?
Have you experienced a divorce or death of a spouse this year? Have your adult children experienced divorce or remarriage? Have you shared in the joy of the birth of a child or grandchild this year?
Or, do you plan on a change in your employment status that could have an impact on your current retirement accounts? Are you required to begin taking a Required Minimum Distribution or RMD? What is your plan for managing tax consequences?
#3: For your insurance policies, retirement accounts (401K and IRA), and annuities, are all of your designated beneficiaries the same as they were last year? Ten years ago? Twenty years ago?
Are you sure? Have you checked your employment benefits records? Your financial institutions’ records? Do all the beneficiary designations reflect your estate planning, will and trust directions?
#4: Are there significant financial changes in your portfolio?
Did you inherit money, land or other assets anytime this year? Do you anticipate an inheritance in the near future? What does this mean to your estate planning strategy?
#5: Have you scheduled a year-end review with your tax or estate planning attorney?
Your estate planning attorney or tax attorney keeps abreast of changes in tax and estate planning laws that may have an impact on your existing plan.
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