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Protect Your Legacy: The Importance of Regular Estate Plan Reviews

Estate planning is not typically top of mind when seeking out a financial advisor. However your financial plan is not complete without having at least a basic estate plan in place. At Crest Wealth Advisors, we emphasize the importance of this practice when creating your financial plan since it is essential to protecting your assets, and more importantly, your loved ones. The last thing you want to do is leave your loved ones with a financial mess to work through during an already challenging period if something were to happen to you.

Basics to Creating an Estate Plan

There are some core documents that every adult should have in place as part of their estate plan. These include:

  • Last Will & Testament: Dictates how you want your assets to be distributed if they are not accounted for elsewhere (such as through a trust or beneficiary designations).
  • Living Will: Also known as an advanced healthcare directive, informs your family and doctor of your healthcare wishes if you can’t speak for yourself.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: Enables a person you assign to act on your behalf if you are no able to do so yourself.
  • Guardianship Designations: Dictates who you want to care for your children if you and your spouse both pass.

The use of beneficiary designations on accounts is also wise as this will help to pass your assets to the intended individuals in the most efficient way possible.

Lastly, depending on the complexity of your estate and estate planning needs, you may need to incorporate a trust into your estate plan. A trust allows for more customization of what happens to your assets and can also help to manage those assets even after you pass.

Each one of these components needs to be coordinated with each other so that there are no conflicting plans in place.

Estate Plans Need to Evolve Over Time

As time passes, your personal circumstances and the legal landscape surrounding estate planning are likely to change. How frequently you need to review your estate plan may depend on your net worth and the complexity of your wishes. However, it is generally a good idea to review your plan during major life changes such as:

  • When you get married or divorced
  • The birth/adoption of a new child
  • When a family member passes that may have been incorporated into your initial plan
  • A significant increase in new worth
  • If you update beneficiary designations and need to align your other estate planning documents accordingly

Even if no major personal event have occurred, it is still advisable to review your plan every 3-5 years to make sure it accurately reflects your wishes and that nothing has changed with your goals. Additionally, there may be law changes that can impact your estate plans, such as the reversion of the federal estate tax exemption set to take effect in 2026.

Effective Strategies for Updating Your Estate Plan

To maintain an estate plan that aligns with your current needs and goals, consider the following approaches:

  • Scheduled Reviews: Commit to reviewing your estate plan every two years or following significant personal events. This practice helps keep your plan relevant to your current situation.
  • Professional Consultation*: Engage with estate planning experts,  to stay informed about legal changes and personal life shifts that might affect your plan.
  • Open Family Dialogue: Discussing your estate plan with your family members can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that your intentions are clear and respected. You should also keep your agent or trustee informed of any changes so they know how to do their job effectively if needed.

*Crest Wealth Advisors works closely with numerous estate planning attorneys in the Annapolis area to ensure a coordinated approach*

Benefits of a Current Estate Plan

An up-to-date estate plan offers numerous benefits:

  • Peace of Mind: Assurance comes from knowing your estate plan is in alignment with your current wishes and that your loved ones are protected.
  • Family Harmony: Clear and current estate directives can help prevent familial disputes and misunderstandings.
  • Financial Advantages: A properly structured estate plan can have significant tax benefits or protect your money from spendthrift individuals.

Personalizing Your Estate Strategy

Recognizing that every individual’s situation is distinct, we at Crest Wealth Advisors encourage you to tailor your estate planning strategies to your personal circumstances and dedicate the time to this important issue. Updating your estate plan is not solely about asset distribution; it’s about respecting your life’s achievements and ensuring your loved ones are cared for in the manner you wish. While it may not be the most pressing topic for you, it is just as important as any other aspect of your financial plan.

Resources for Your Estate Planning Needs

To assist you in this critical process, Crest Wealth Advisors offers has a few resources that you can download:

  • Beneficiary Checklist: Ensure that no detail is missed in reviewing your plan’s beneficiaries with our detailed checklist.
  • Estate Planning Checklist: A step-by-step checklist to assist you in covering all aspects of your estate plan during reviews.

Taking the Next Steps with Crest Wealth Advisors

If it’s been awhile since your last estate plan review, now is the time to act. Consider the changes in your life since your last assessment and how they may affect your current estate planning needs.

At Crest Wealth Advisors, we’re committed to integrating comprehensive estate planning into our clients’ broader financial strategies. Should you wish to discuss updating your estate plan or how it fits within your overall financial picture, we’re here to help. Reach out today to ensure your legacy is preserved exactly as you envision.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, legal advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. Please consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Jason Dall’Acqua, and all rights are reserved.