End of Year Updates
The end of any calendar year is a good time to start planning an update for your estate plan. While you will have to wait for year-end financial statements to update any specific numbers in your will, you can start reviewing the will early to make sure there aren’t any significant changes to make.
Work with your estate attorney to reduce the number of exact numbers in your will. For example, instead of saying, “I leave $10,000 to my nephew,” you can generalize the number as a percentage. “I leave 10% of my saving account to my nephew.”
On the surface, the use of exact dollar amounts isn’t a problem. However, any money in your estate that is left over after distribution will have to go through probate, triggering fees. So instead of dollar amounts, use percentages to ensure that 100% of your estate is distributed through the will and not probate court.
Of course, even a will that accounts for 100% of the estate could need a regular update. Using the example above, if you happen to move money out of your saving account and into an investment account, you will need to update the information to ensure that your nephew still gets some money when you pass away.
A will is a living document that need regular attention. If you don’t have a will, start by making an appointment with an estate attorney as soon as possible. You don’t have to have your financials in perfect order before you sit down with an estate planner for the first time. An estate plan is an ongoing process, and the best time to start is now.