Wealth Planning News

Vol. VI, No. 1

Periodic Plan Review Is Important

 

A periodic review of your estate plan and estate planning issues is needed for several reasons.

 

First, planning is not normally a “once and done” matter. Assets change; your circumstances and the circumstances of your intended beneficiaries also change. Such changes may cause a need for updates to your dispositive documents and to documents you have for the purposes of avoiding guardianship proceedings in the event of disability. Applicable laws, including but not limited to tax laws also change and such changes may dictate changes to your estate plan.

 

Second, for trust based planning, funding issues are so important that a periodic review is a wise thing to do.

 

Third, your chosen fiduciaries, such as personal representative, successor trustees, and persons who could make decisions for your health care, often should be changed. Finally, your choices for who should receive your estate, and in what manner, may also change.

Funding Is Critical To Trust Based Planning


To “fund” a trust is to retitle assets so the trust will be the record owner of the assets. When you retitle assets, your living trust becomes the record owner of each as­set. You are no longer the record owner. Changing title so your trust owns assets is called funding a trust.

 

One main purpose of your trust is to avoid living or death pro­bate adminis­tration of your estate.

 

In the event of your disability, a successor trustee can only man­age those as­sets that have been transferred into the trust. If your assets are not in your trust, then your assets will be subject to living probate proceedings if you become disabled.

 

If your assets are not in your trust when you die, your trust will not control the disposition of the assets, and your estate will be subject to death probate administration. Any as­sets that remain titled in the name of an individual, even the individual who has cre­ated a living trust, are normally subject to probate proceedings on the death of the person whose name is on the title as owner. 

 

Review Funding Periodically

 

To assure your trust is properly funded it is wise to go over your list of assets to determine if any funding has been left undone, or if new assets need to be transferred to your trust. At the same time it is wise to review beneficiary designations on assets that pass by contract, such as annuities, life insurance, and retirement accounts. Many people choose to leave their estate to loved ones in asset protection trusts intended to protect the inheritance from lawsuits and possible divorces that may impact the beneficiaries. For this asset protection to work properly the assets, including those passing by beneficiary designation, should pass to your trust at death, instead of directly to your loved ones.

In This Issue

Periodic Plan Review Is Important

Funding Is Critical To Trust Based Planning

Who Do You Want To Act For You?

When To Review

 

Who Do You Want To Act For You?

 

One goal of planning is to allow you to maintain the dignity of control over your personal health care and living conditions, and of your assets.

 

We all recognize that disability may occur as time passes. Knowing this fact we should each decide who should act on our behalf for medical decisions, including end of life decisions, for us if we are unable to act for ourselves. Over time persons originally selected by us may have themselves grown too old, or may have moved away or even died. So it may be necessary to update our choices as part of a periodic review of our planning.

 

We also choose who should manage our financial affairs, including our investments and spending decisions, if we become disabled. Again, persons we once chose may no longer be available to help us.

 

We also choose who should be in charge of paying out final bills and distributing our estate to our loved ones after we die. This job of trust or estate administration is so important that our choices of who should do it require reconsideration and possible changes as time passes. And so this task is also best managed by periodic estate plan reviews. 

 

When To Review

 

Review is a good idea if any family circumstances change as a result of death of a loved one or for other reasons; or if our chosen persons for health care, disability management, or trust or estate administration die or move away.

 

Each client for whom we help with planning is assigned a review reminder when the client file is closed. When that date arrives we send a form letter offering our help with a review meeting. If the client schedules no review we choose another later date for a similar review reminder. If the client again ignores the review reminder we may try one more time or may just mark that client file as inactive. Inactive files have no upcoming items for our attention, and are reopened only if and when the client or persons chosen by the client for disability or estate administration contact us.

Contact us to learn more about how we do things differently. 

Copyright 2021 Hopp & Associates, PC