Annual Estate Plan Self-Audit

Annual Estate Plan Self-Audit

At the end year do the following things to give your estate plan a check up.

REVIEW YOUR DOCUMENTS

Re-familiarize yourself with your documents; know the terms in the documents and what each document does and why.  I encourage you to read each document carefully. If you need to make changes, resolve to get them made in the New Year.

When you review your Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA) consider the following things:

  • Who are your primary and secondary personal agents?
  • Are they still in capable of carrying out your wishes? Did your agent die, become incapacitated, or resign?
  • Was your Financial Power of Attorney created after January 1st 2010?
    • Financial Power of Attorney’s created after 1/1/2010 must have specific stated powers.
    • If the Financial Power of Attorney does not include these specific state powers then the agent lacks the authority to exercise any of these powers for  you.
  • Does your Financial Power of Attorney have springing or standing powers, and are those powers appropriate?
  • Are your digital assets accounted for in your FPOA?
  • Does your agent have a copy of your Financial Power of Attorney?

When you review your Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) consider the following things:

  • Who are your primary and secondary personal agents?
  • Are they still in capable of carrying out your wishes? Did your agent die, become incapacitated, or resign?
  • Does your agent understand your wishes concerning artificial life support?
  • Does your Health Care Power of Attorney meet Colorado’s requirements of the Colorado statutes?
    • Many of the off-the-shelf or online estate planning documents do not comply with Colorado law.
  • Is your Health Care Power of Attorney durable?
  • Does your Health Care Power of Attorney have a valid HIPPA authorization and agent designation?
  • Does your Health Care Power of Attorney sync with your living will?
  • Is the end of life treatment you wish to receive accurate and up to date?
  • Do your agent, family members, doctors, and health care facility have a copy of your Health Care Power of Attorney

When you review your Living Will or Advanced Medical Directive consider the following things:

  • Does your living will meet Colorado’s requirements for living wills or  advanced medical directives?
  • Was your living will witnessed by two uninterested parties, and notarized?
  • Does your living will sync with your HCPOA?
  • Is the end of life treatment you wish to receive accurate and up to date?

When you review your Last Will and Testament consider the following things:

  • Does your will meet your estate planning goals? Who is to benefit from your  will, and how should they benefit?
  • How have your family circumstances changed? Has their been births, deaths, divorce, disability?
  • Who is in charge after your death? Has your personal representative died or is in poor health?

ASSETS AND TITLING

Review your assets to make sure that they are in line with your estate plan. It is important know that assets are not always be distributed in accordance with your last will and testament. Assets can be distributed by title, such as a joint tenancy, and also by contract, such as a payable on death (POD) account. Do not neglect your digital assets. Make sure that your beneficiary designations are correct, current, and consistent with your will.

REVIEW YOUR TRUSTS

If you have a trust, is properly funded? Especially, if the trust is a testamentary trust that provides for minor children. An unfunded trust will fail. Examine if you really need a trust. Many people create a trust as a probate avoidance device and to avoid estate taxes. However, the probate process in Colorado is simple and straight forward. Many estates are administered and settled without an actual court appearance. Colorado has no estate taxes and the federal estate tax exemption is $5.4 million per individual and about $11 million for a couple.  A trust in many circumstances may be not needed and may be more expensive to maintain and administer than going through the Colorado probate process. Consider having your assets pass by title or contract.

YOUR INFORMATION

Your information needs to be in one place and your personal representative and/or your agent needs to know how to get to it. You should have a list of all your accounts numbers, passwords, as well as the names and contact information of your insurance agent, financial advisor, attorney, and other key personnel. Leave instructions on where your estate planning documents are located, including your memorandum distributing your tangible personal property, and information pertaining to your final arrangements.

OTHER ITEMS

You may gift an individual up to $14,000 in the year 2015, without the individual having to claim that amount as income. This amount will stay the same for 2016. You have until December 31st, to make these gifts.

If you are an owner or partner in a small business, are your succession planning documents in order?

Last but not least, consider who will care for your furry family members and if you need a pet trust?

2015_estate_planning_checkup

DON’T PROCRASTINATE

Surveys estimate that, depending on the age group, from one-half to two-thirds of Americans don’t have an estate plan. If you made a New Year’s resolution in 2015 to have your estate plan completed, and you haven’t done so yet, resolve to get done in 2016.

An effective and well thought out estate plan is one of the necessary items in anyone’s financial plans. It will save your friends, family, and loved ones,  a lot headaches and stress in a time when they need those things the least. Do it for them, not for you.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice about your case or situation. There may be exceptions to the information outlined above. Please consult an attorney if you have specific questions about your estate or a decedent’s estate.

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