You can find Attorney Julie D. Eisenhower’s originally published article in West Knoxville Lifestyle Magazine’s April 2021 Legal Compass
Spring is traditionally a time for cleaning and organizing our homes. One particular item on our to-do list is to make sure that our financial home is tidy and complete. Reviewing and organizing our estate plan is one of the critical steps we should take to make sure that our financial home is in order:
1. Review Your Existing Estate Plan
The first step is to review your existing estate plan. Review your existing plan
documents in light of any new events that have occurred over the previous year.
Milestone moments that signify transitions to new chapters in one’s life are great times to
ask your attorney to review your estate plan to make sure that the plan continues to
capture your intention and reflects your lifestyle.
On the other hand, maybe it is time to consider consulting with an attorney to determine
if estate planning is needed. Maybe you recently married, welcomed a new baby, or are
caring for an ailing parent. These are transitional moments that trigger the evaluation of
whether an estate plan is needed.
2. Create a Life Manual
Consider organizing your estate planning documents into what I like to call a “Life
Manual.” This manual should include copies (and originals, if you have them) of your
estate planning documents; vital record documents such as a birth certificate, marriage
certificate, social security number cards, passports, etc.; and any other important
documents that an executor or surviving spouse would need to refer in order to settle your
Make sure to keep this Manual in a secured place.
Tax time is a great time to review your Manual to make sure if updates or changes are
3. Estate Planning Isn’t Just a Will
Estate planning is not just executing a will. Estate planning can include living trust
documents or beneficiary designations on accounts such as life insurance policies, IRAs,
or retirement accounts.
Take an opportunity to review your living trust documents to make sure that they
continue to reflect your intentions and your lifestyle. Do these trust documents capture
the latest changes in laws, particularly tax laws? Spring is a great time to discuss with
your financial planner, accountant, and attorney to make sure that your living trust
documents are working efficiently and that trust asset management and taxation are on
Review your beneficiary designations for your life insurance policies or retirements
accounts. Take an opportunity to speak with your life insurance agent or financial planner to make sure that these designations reflect your current lifestyle. If you have experienced milestone moments this past year, then it is time to speak with a professional to determine if your current policies and beneficiary designations are accurate.
Remember — Taking the time organizing our financial homes is another important task on our springtime to-do list. Review existing estate planning documents or consider consulting with an attorney to create an estate plan. Create and organize your important documents and safely store these documents in a secure location. Finally, estate planning is not just creating a will. Take time in spring to review your living trust documents or beneficiary designations for important financial accounts.