In just a blink, another year is coming to a close as we stare down the launch of 2019. Busy with holiday madness, planning, and writing out those New Years resolutions, you probably have not had any time to sit back and think about the status of your estate planning with a new fiscal year approaching.
Although it might not sound as fun as buying Christmas presents, here is your 2018 estate planning to-do list moving forward:
Check the Dates:
When it comes to estate planning, you need to ensure all of your essential documents are up to date, including:
Wills & Trusts - Now that the federal estate tax exemption is fixed at $10 million per person adjusted for inflation ($11.18 million in 2018), it is important that you review your estate planning to ensure that it still makes sense. Additionally, check to see if those appointed to be fiduciaries are still able to function in that role. Lastly, if your family has gone through a death, birth, marriage, divorce, etc., you will want to double check the distribution scheme in your will or trust.
New Healthcare Requirements – Although the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (known as HIPAA) was enacted in 1996, it did not go into effect until 2003, which means if your estate was planned prior to that date, you need to ensure all directives are compliant with the new law. Additionally, it’s just good practice to check that all language from post-HIPPA documents are in accordance with the law.
Power of Attorney – Your Power of Attorney can expire without you even realizing it, putting your financial accounts and information at risk. If you became incapacitated and your Power of Attorney was not finalized, it could put you, your family, and your future family at risk.
Again, whoever is mentioned on your life insurance, retirement accounts, bank accounts, vehicles, etc. needs to still be able to function as a beneficiary. Be sure to go over these sensitive documents and ensure that person is still able to support you in that role.
Prepare for Tax Season:
Yes, tax season is on the horizon, which is why you should begin gathering the necessary documents, proof of deduction, charitable giving receipts, and more so you aren’t forced to rush through it at the last second. Additionally, consider the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that has made several new changes to the existing tax code.
Review Policies & Paycheck Withholdings:
Be sure to review your current insurance coverage for your home and property, seeing if you can save more money through a different policy, as well as secure reductions on rates if you have not filed any claims. Lastly, check to see how much you have contributed to your 401(k), IRA, or Health Savings Account considering the government allows you to contribute X amount pre-tax. Put more money away for your retirement or future medical expenses while you still can!
The Ashcraft Firm
We all know the end of the year can be a hectic, expensive, and stressful time, which is why we are here to support you and your estate amid the chaos, changes, and start of new laws and regulations. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please reach out to our team today. We’re here to get you ready for 2019.