Take a Moment to Review Your Estate Plan

June 12, 2020

By Sheri E. Warsh and Carrie A. Harrington

As summer settles in, and social distancing restrictions keep you home, it’s a good time to review your estate plan. 

Your review's apparent focus includes who you have designated as successor trustees, executors, guardians for minor children, and agents on powers of attorney. Just as important, and more often overlooked, is the review of your assets' titling and your beneficiary designations. Most people realize the importance of establishing estate planning documents. Unfortunately, the proper titling of assets is often neglected, despite advice from estate planners. 

If you have a Revocable Trust, it is crucial to review the ownership of assets to ensure titling reflects the name of that trust and not your individual name. Additionally, you should take the opportunity to request a copy of all beneficiary designations to ensure that beneficiary designations on your accounts reflect your wishes. You may want to review the current language to determine if the most recent changes in estate and income tax laws have been considered. Finally, to maximize the use of applicable exclusions from estate taxes, review the division of assets between the Revocable Trusts for you and your spouse. 

Part of the estate planning process includes ensuring that you have organized your asset information, including access to online accounts so that your designated representative can track down and gain access to those assets and accounts. When it comes to passwords, many people find it easiest to keep a written list of their passwords, whether on paper or stored on their computers. 

Unfortunately, during these challenging times, identity theft and related scams are on the rise. Writing down passwords can be dangerous if the list ends up in the wrong hands. Keeping the list on your computer can leave the passwords vulnerable if your computer is hacked. Additionally, if a person keeps a list anywhere, they have to remember to update the list whenever a password is updated continually.   

Given these two options, you might be wondering how to make yourself more secure online and make it easier for your designated representatives to access your accounts in times of uncertainty or crisis. 

One option you may want to consider is an online password keeper. There are many options available. Password keeper services can help you create hard-to-hack passwords and be the holder for all of your passwords, so you and your survivors do not have to remember many different passwords.

Organizing your assets and related information and documentation is an essential part of the estate planning process. Take the opportunity that the current travel/movement restrictions are giving you to review your estate plan, titling of assets, beneficiary designations, and related documentation and passwords.

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