(Finally) Finishing Your Tax Returns Isn’t the Final Step
You may already be done with your tax returns (or maybe you even finished them in time for the April deadline!). October 16, 2017 is the deadline to file your 2016 federal and state income tax returns. But even after your returns are filed, there are still a few items on your financial to-do list.
As our client, you probably already have a trust-based estate plan (or we’re in the process of working on one with you). So, you’re on the right track to getting the most from your assets and protecting yourself and your family from financial mismanagement and over-taxation.
However, trust-based estate plans can fail if your assets aren’t properly funded into your trusts or otherwise aligned with your plan. Follow these three easy steps as soon as possible to make sure you’re wrapping up the year wisely by leveraging the time you’ve already spent finishing your tax returns.
1. Review your trust design diagram or summary to ensure it still matches your goals.
If you’ve experienced some changes since you last visited your estate plan, such as welcoming a new baby to the family, suffering the death of a loved one, or experiencing major health concerns, you might have a new perspective on what you’d like your long-term estate planning goals to look like. It’s always a good idea to revisit your trust design diagram or trust summary periodically to make sure it still works with your current situation.
2. Gather your most recent bank statements, investment statements, beneficiary designation forms, and other paperwork concerning new accounts.
You’ve already put together a stack of documents in order to prepare for tax season (or you were an early bird and did this back in April). Before filing these away, bring your important financial documents to us to make sure we don’t need to change anything in your existing estate plan based on your current account statements and other financial data. Remember, estate planning isn’t a one-and-done exercise! We need to routinely review and update your plan to ensure it meets your goals and works with ongoing changes to your assets, your family dynamics, and the law.
3. Call us to discuss updating your trust asset schedules and ensuring that all of your property is properly funded into your trust or otherwise aligned with your plan.
Your trust schedules are an important supporting document to your estate plan. However, just because an item is listed on the schedules —your house, for example —doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it’s properly held within the trust. Things can get complicated (and potentially expensive or confusing for your family) when documents like trust schedules and deeds, titles, or other “ownership” documents don’t match up. Listing an asset on a trust schedule doesn’t transfer title of that asset from you to your trust on its own, so it’s important to make sure that actual ownership of all of your assets aligns with your estate planning goals and documents.
Once we make sure that all three of these steps are taken care of, you can focus your energy on enjoying the coming holiday season with your loved ones rather than worrying about your estate plan. Give us a call today to schedule a time to review your plan, update your asset schedules and ownership records, and otherwise help you achieve your estate planning goals.