Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Beneficiaries

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Each year during tax season, most folks scramble to gather records on income and expenses. Of course, we all know that with just a little pre-planning it doesn’t have to be that way. Why not take time now to review your will, trust, powers of attorney, and designated beneficiaries – well before the kick-off of next year’s tax season? Who knows, you may come across some significant tax savings in the process.

There is no better time to audit what you own and how you own it then right after tax season, because there is no pressure of a looming deadline. So, where do you start? The best place to begin is by answering some of the following questions:

PROPERTY: Are you assets properly titled for your distribution intent? Which accounts are titled in joint tenancy? Are there any tenancy-in-common titled assets that should be Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survival? Have you created a trust? Has it been funded?

BENEFICIARIES: What about your beneficiary designations? With IRA and 401(k) statements close at hand shouldn’t the benefi- ciary designations be double checked? How recently have you reviewed your life insurance policies for beneficiary designations? What about updating the contingent beneficiaries?

ANNUITIES: Do you own an annuity? How long ago did you open the annuity? Does the owner, annuitant and beneficiary of each contract line up to maximize the full benefits available? Is it possible the annuity needs an upgrade to reflect your current situation?

DEATH OR DIVORCE: Has there been a death or divorce involving any of the beneficiaries originally selected? Have your children come of age? For deaths occurring after December 31, 2012, the estate tax in Ohio has been eliminated. What might remain for your review or to be completed for your estate planning process?

WILLS: Do you need to review and perhaps revise your will? What assets do you own that you would prefer to pass to heirs and avoid probate? Have you identified personal assets or heirlooms that are to be directed to someone specific? What have you done to try to minimize confusion or concern after the fact?

TRUSTS: As of January 1, 2013, the exemption from Federal Estate Tax was raised to $5,250,000 from $1 million, with the most recent adjustment for inflation. Have you reviewed your trust and other documents to be sure that your wishes are still properly reflected in your documents?

Since you give thought to and spend time adjusting holdings in your investment accounts, it’s just as important to take time to review your will, trust, powers of attorney and designated beneficiaries. Of course, since statements arrive monthly or quarterly, your investment account numbers are in your stream of consciousness. But what about all the planning that was done when you first set up these other documents and their distributions, 5, 10 or even 20 years ago? What action have you taken lately to assure yourself and your loved ones that everything is still in order, and these documents are still set up properly to honor your wishes? How much value is there to you for peace of mind? Wouldn’t this be a good time to review all of these important documents?

Don’t let the thought of having to review this entire list become overwhelming. Contact us today so we can help you review your individual situation, and help you to know that your plans are still in place to have your wishes honored.

 

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