It's tax time! This is the time of year that many of us take stock of our finances. Now that you have gathered your records and are reviewing your finances, it is a good time to review your estate plan. Here are a few questions you can answer to complete your estate planning check-up:
- Do you have a will or trust?
- Do you need to make changes to your will or trust because your family circumstances have changed (death, birth, marriage, divorce, incapacity)?
- If you have a trust, have your assets been placed in the trust? Of special note, if you refinanced real estate and your lender required you to take your property out of the trust, has the property been placed back into the trust?
- Is your estate plan outdated (for example, does it include provisions for minors that are now adults)?
- Does your estate plan take into account beneficiaries with current problems (substance abuse, creditor problems, marital obligations, or physical/mental disabilities)?
- Did you launch a new business venture which requires business succession planning?
- Should you plan to gift property to your beneficiaries now to avoid liabilities (for example, transferring ownership of a car to your young adult), estate taxes, or family feuds?
- Are the beneficiary designations on your bank accounts, investment accounts, and insurances up to date?
- Have you reviewed your credit profile to make sure you have not been a victim of identity theft?
- Is the State of California holding any unclaimed property for you? (Check out website http://scoweb.sco.ca.gov/ucp. Note: AOL and EarthLink browsers may have difficulty in accessing the site. Use Internet Explorer).
- Are your property, liability, medical, and disability insurances adequate?
- If you are a beneficiary of someone else's estate, is appropriate action being taken to preserve your interests, such as the initiation of a probate proceeding to change the title to property?
As you review your finances, make plans to get your estate in order! I have developed a brochure that outlines the estate planning process. It contains a lot of general information in an easy-to-read format and I will be happy to send it to you upon request. © 2012 by Marlene S. Cooper. All rights reserved.
[Marlene S. Cooper, a graduate of UCLA, has been an attorney for over 30 years. Her practice is focused entirely on estate planning, estate administration and probate. You may obtain further information at www.marlenecooperlaw.com, by e-mail at
, by phone at (626) 791-7530 or toll free at (866) 702-7600. The information in this article is of a general nature and not intended as legal advice. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this article.]