Spring Cleaning? Dust Off Your Old Estate Plan with this Checklist

Howard Law Firm has made it quick and convenient for you to evaluate whether your plan will do what you need it to, and when.

Estate Plan Checklist: Spring Cleaning

☐ My legal documents were drafted by a California attorney following a review of my family and financial circumstances and a personal consultation with me to clarify my wishes and create a custom-tailored plan to suit my unique circumstances.

☐ My estate plan is not an online DIY plan.

☐ My legal documents were created and I formally signed (in the presence of 2 totally disinterested Witnesses and a notary public) in California.

☐ My estate plan is written in plain English.

☐ I understand my estate plan documents and review them myself periodically to make sure everything stays current.

☐ I have reviewed my legal documents with my attorney in the past 3 years or less.

☐ My spouse has not died and I have not: had any major health changes, had another child, had a grandchild, divorced, remarried, received an inheritance, moved, changed jobs, won the lottery or come into some other type of financial windfall, or been sued or threatened with a lawsuit since I last reviewed or updated my estate plan.

☐ I remain confident in the choices I made regarding which people will serve in what order to manage all of my assets in the event of my incapacity and after my death. I have named multiple backups or provided for succession to avoid a vacuum in the management of these affairs.

☐ I remain confident in the choices I made regarding which people will serve in what order to express my medical and end of life wishes and advocate on my behalf during my incapacity and after my death. I have named multiple backups.

☐ If I were in an accident, emergency responders would have access to my medical documents and information and know whom to call for assistance right away.

☐ I have legally appointed temporary, emergency guardians for my minor child(ren) in the event of an accident or situation in which I am unable to travel/return home. I have provided for my children to remain in our family’s home in such an event so my child(ren) is not further traumatized by being removed from comfortable and familiar surroundings.

☐ I have legally appointed permanent guardians for my minor child(ren).

☐ I have legally appointed permanent guardians for my minor child(ren) outside of my Will to facilitate the quick resolution of that matter and establish permanency and minimize secondary traumas for my child(ren) as quickly as possible in the event of such a tragedy.

☐ I have made arrangements and my wishes known regarding my stored genetic materials (sperm, eggs, embryos).

☐ I have provided for my minor children’s guardians’ financial needs to help accommodate my children (e.g. new car, adding a bathroom or home addition, moving to a larger home, etc.).

☐ I have considered how my child(ren) and my guardian’s might be economically situated relative to one another and have provided for my guardian’s child(ren) to also use some of the resources I leave behind so that they can benefit similarly in furtherance of their interpersonal relationships.

☐ I have made provisions to maintain both sides of the family and lifelong, dear friends in regular visitation and communication with my child(ren).

☐ My minor children’s caregivers know whom to call and what to do in the event of an emergency.

☐ My college-age / young adult child(ren) have their own basic estate plan so that I can advocate for and assist easily on behalf of the child(ren) in the event of an emergency.

☐ My loved ones will know where to find my estate plan and where to turn for help if I am incapacitated and after my death.

☐ If my “nuclear” family and I were all to die, I feel good knowing where all of my assets would go and that the receipt of those assets wouldn’t cause any unintended consequences.

☐ After ensuring I have provided adequately for my family’s needs, I feel good knowing that I have made provisions to recognize charities in my plan that align with my values and beliefs.

☐ I am confident my loved ones will understand my end of life wishes and that deciding those important matters won’t cause them unnecessary pain or lead to potentially relationship-damaging disagreements amongst them.

☐ I am confident my estate plan is structured to help my loved ones avoid the necessity for working through the court probate process, with all that entails, to inventory and gain approval for the distribution of all my assets after my death.

☐ All of my assets are properly titled and/or beneficiary designations made in accordance with my plan. For example, my trust is fully funded and my life insurance policy and retirement plan beneficiaries are up to date and work in conjunction with my Trust or Will.

☐ I have not named any loved ones who are minor children or disabled as beneficiaries of my estate, life insurance policy, nor retirement plan.

☐ My estate plan reflects my personal wishes regarding the use of my assets to provide for my surviving loved ones (i.e. the who, what for, when, why, & how of it all).

☐ I am comfortable that my current plan will protect my spouse and/or children’s future inheritance from both curiosity seekers as well as those who might wish to prey upon them during periods of vulnerability.

☐ I am confident my children’s inheritance is protected from loss from their own immaturity, potential addiction, divorce, lawsuits, and creditors.

☐ I feel good about having documented my life’s values and left a lasting memento and legacy for my surviving loved ones for generations to come.

☐ I have provided guidance and authority to manage my social media accounts, access my devices and their contents, online banking and payment accounts, etc…

☐ I have provided for my pet(s)’ care in the event of my temporary incapacity and after my death. I have considered the best way to leave assets to assist with that ongoing routine, reasonable care.

☐ I have included provisions to account for future changes in the law, tax codes, and to address minor corrections at a much reduced cost and without the need for formal court involvement.

☐ I have included careful language to discourage people in my life who might disagree with my choices or feel entitled to some of my assets from challenging my estate plan in court.

If you don’t feel you’ve checked off enough of these to feel confident in the adequacy of your current estate plan, please contact Howard Law Firm to set up your Free Consultation to review your existing plan in personal detail and see what needs updating to better reflect your wishes now.

(559) 575-0514