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Out-of-date estate plan? You might be causing future troubles

Yearly physicals at the doctor's office and regular tune-ups for the car are on most people's to-do lists, and rightly so. Staying on top of important aspects of life is part of the key to avoiding unexpected problems. For all the careful planning that people in Oklahoma do, revisiting an estate plan in order to avoid issues during estate administration is often overlooked.

When making the appointment for the car or at the doctor's, consider carving out time specifically for reviewing and addressing possible discrepancies in an estate plan. Allowing information to lapse can create unforeseen and overwhelming difficulties for those charged with the estate administration process after the death of a loved one. In general, a yearly check-in with three main aspects of an estate plan are key to avoiding that unnecessary future.

Assets are fairly easy to check in with and are a good place to start. Keeping a running tab on the value of all assets allows individuals to compare how the value will affect future estate taxes and allow them to take action when necessary. This could mean placing certain assets in trusts or even transferring the ownership of certain assets as a precautionary measure.

Reviewing assets opens up opportunities for people to go over all of their already in-place estate documents. Life can change in the blink of an eye, and information contained in documents from durable powers of attorney to wills and trusts can be long overdue for an update. On that same topic, life insurance coverage should also be considered during this time period. Marriages, divorces and even the birth of children can affect a person's wishes, so it is a good idea to update life insurance beneficiaries as needed.

An out-of-date estate plan can cause as many headaches and issues as the complete absence of one. Failing to destroy or revoke a will that reflects incorrect information or desires can result in unwanted outcomes, such as certain assets being passed on to individuals with which the testator has had a falling out. Residents of Oklahoma can minimize the difficulties that loved ones will have to deal with during estate administration by taking a little bit of time each year to ensure that all information is relevant and up-to-date.

Source: Time, "Estate Planning Checkup: 3 Items to Review Now", Tracy Craig, Jan. 20, 2016

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