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Year End Estate Planning Checklist

The end of the year is unquestionably the busiest time of the year for most people, but it is important to make sure that your financial and estate planning affairs do not get lost in the shuffle. Here is a quick checklist to help you make sure that your planning is up to date and relevant in the new year:

  • Speak with an estate planning attorney to determine ways to maximize the current $11.58M lifetime exemption amount before it potentially expires retroactive to December 31, 2020
  • Make annual exclusion gifts (currently $15,000 per recipient) prior to December 31, 2020
    • Funding 529 Plans
    • Funding Irrevocable Trusts
    • Charitable gifts
    • Educational and medical exclusion gifts
  • Retirement and Other Plans
    • Confirm employer-sponsored benefits
    • Fully fund 401K, 403B or other employer-sponsored retirement plans before December 31, 2020
    • Fund non-employer retirement plans such as traditional and Roth IRAs before December 31, 2020
    • Fund HSA accounts before December 31, 2020
  • If 72 or older (or 70½ if you’re 70½ before January 1, 2020), ensure that required minimum distributions from pre-tax retirement plans have been taken
  • Execute or review disability documents
    • Financial Power of Attorney
    • Health Care Proxy
    • Living Will
    • Nomination of Guardianship
  • Confirm and coordinate beneficiary designations
    • Employer-sponsored benefits
    • Life insurance
    • Annuities
    • Bank and brokerage accounts
  • Review ownership documents (especially jointly owned property)
    • Deeds
    • Titles
  • Execute or review a Last Will and Testament or Revocable Trust
    • Current dispositive scheme (including disposition of digital assets)
    • Ensure proper selection of fiduciaries
  • Consider pre- and post-nuptial agreements as part of matrimonial and estate planning, including the use of elective share waivers
  • Review current life insurance to ensure the correct beneficiaries are reflected and that death benefit is sufficient

Credit: Lori Anne Douglass, Douglass Rademacher LLP,

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