An estate is made up of things you own, such as your home, car, physical and digital possessions, financial assets, and other important keepsakes. Whether you have an endless amount of property and assets or not, almost everyone owns something that will become a part of their estate when they die. If you don’t establish and maintain a plan for your estate, you can leave a complicated mess for friends and family to handle when you are gone.
Some estate maintenance has to do with reviewing the people you’ve chosen to perform specific duties, like those who will receive benefits, make important decisions and those you chose as a guardian for your children. Are these individuals still alive and able to take on these tasks?
To perform routine maintenance on your estate, ask yourself the nine questions below.
- Are you happy with how you’ve split the assets in your will? Or do you need to adjust your inheritors and beneficiaries?
- Is the individual you chose to act as the guardian of your children still up to the task?
- Is your will readily available to those that will need to follow it once you pass?
- If you have a medical emergency, is your will and the naming of your health care proxy, your advance directive, readily available?
- Is the individual listed as your health care proxy still willing and able to grant your healthcare wishes?
- Is your life insurance policy up to date?
- Have you experienced a life event that requires more insurance?
- Do your family and loved ones have the correct contact information for your financial, legal and medical contacts?
- Your online assets are important as well and will have to be accounted for when allocating your estate. Have you shared that information with someone you trust?
When you should consider estate maintenance
If you experience any of the following life events, estate maintenance should become a top of mind task.
- Birth of or adoption of a child
- When your kids become legal adults
- If you move
- If you move to another state or country, maintenance is especially important
- Get a new job
- Any health scare, diagnosis or minor/extreme surgery
- Become a caregiver to a special needs individual or elderly parent
- The expiration of your life insurance policy
- Any major purchase or sale
Three other events that could cause you to jolt into estate maintenance are the death of a family member or loved one, fallout with a family member tied to your estate plan, or becoming impassioned toward a cause or charity.
Estate maintenance should always be a factor to consider when major changes are happening in your life.