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Consider . . . Re-evaluating Your Plan

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Posted on Dec 21, 2017 | Share this post: Like Us on Facebook Join Us on Google Follow Us on Twitter

About a decade ago, in preparation for a move from Virginia to Tucson, my husband and I hired a real estate agent to sell our residence.  The agent, Bev, had a way of making her way through the house and suggesting improvements.  “Consider,” she would say, “three stools at the breakfast bar.”  Or “Consider . . . painting the kitchen Sherwin Williams’ China Doll White.”

Before long, it became clear that these were not mere suggestions or things to think about doing, but orders set forth with some sweet Southern charm.  We complied (mostly), and her guidance lead to a quick, successful sale, and we brought her method with us to Tucson.  We now tell one another, “Consider . . . taking out the trash,” “Consider . . . putting on more sunblock,” and so on.

In honor of Bev and her lasting passive-aggressive but not humorless style, we offer the following estate planning considerations for the season:

Consider . . .

Whether the people who will receive your property under your estate plan are the ones that bring you happiness and joy.  Does that matter to you?  Is there someone you should add (or take out)?  (Please don’t base this on whether you received a card this year.  Consider the big picture.)

Consider . . .

Whether you even need an estate plan now that the estate tax exemption is going up to a whopping $11 million ($22 million for married couples).   (This one’s easy.  You do.)

Consider . . .

Whether there are any charitable causes you might want to add to your plan.  Now that charitable giving won’t have as much of a tax advantage as it once did, your gift will be even more needed and appreciated.  Are there lifetime gifts you wish to make in lieu of gifts under your Will?

Consider . . .

Whether the people you have designated to make financial and medical decisions, if you cannot, are  practically and emotionally available, and qualified to do the job.

Consider . . .

The relationships between your agents or executors and the beneficiaries who will be depending on them to administer your affairs.  Is there any tension?  Are there past conflicts that might surface?

Consider . . .

If there is even the potential for conflict, past or present, adding provisions to your estate plan that either protect the trustee/executor or that subjects them to more oversight.

Consider . . .

If there is even the potential for conflict, past of present, whether keeping the peace by naming a neutral agent/trustee/executor might be a benefit that could reduce tension and ease the process.

Consider . . .

Whether any of your beneficiaries might have issues, like a rocky marriage or touchy finances, that might mean they would benefit from receiving their inheritance in a trust.

Consider . . .

If your children ask about your finances, that it might not be an attack or greed but honest concern regarding whether you have sufficient funds to pay for your own care.  (A lot of children worry they’ll have to pay for it and are trying to plan.)

Consider . . .

Whether your beneficiaries might want to receive specific items of yours that would bring warm memories of you or enjoyment.  If so, make sure your plan has a “gift by list” provision, and make that list, following the instructions in your document precisely.  (You probably need to at least sign it.)  Consider whether loved ones might want items they gave to you – after all, they probably liked them.

Consider . . .

If your loved ones ask whether you have an estate plan, that they are right: you need one.  (Or it might need updating.)

Consider . . .

That your estate plan contains the last gifts you give.  Plan it well.