Spring Cleaning for your Legal and Financial Affairs

Spring is in full swing and summer is right around the corner! This means that it is spring cleaning time and summer slim down! Shake out the rugs, clean out the cupboards, and donate those clothes that might not be fashionable anymore. This is also an excellent opportunity to get your legal and financial affairs in order.

For many, it’s easy to know what to do when it comes to home organization such as cleaning out the closet and finally finishing those DIY projects, but the idea of legal and financial organization can be complex and confusing.

To help you start we compiled a small list to help guide you and get you started on your legal and financial clean up!

  1. Update Your Family Wealth Inventory

What assets do you have? How long might it take you to compile a list of accounts, properties, and digital assets? That last one probably got you thinking. Knowing what you own should not be a mystery. At Yolofsky Law, we facilitate getting you better organized with a Family Wealth Inventory. We document the assets that you own, so that in the event you become incapacitated or when you die, your family will know how to find what you own. Throughout the year, many things can change.

Absent an updated Family Wealth Inventory, your assets could ultimately be lost to the state department of unclaimed property. Currently more than 1 billion dollars of assets are held in Florida’s department of unclaimed property because most people do not leave a clear record of their assets at the time of their incapacity or death.1

  1. Review Your Beneficiary Designations

A comprehensive estate plan review should always include a look at the titles and beneficiary designations for all assets. These designations must be consistent with your estate planning goals. While cleaning up your affairs, it is very important to review all your beneficiary designations. Change is a constant part of life. Address change. Couples break up and singles enter relationships. Children become adults (or at least we parents hope they do.) The designations you might have made two years ago may well be out of date. Taking the time to double-check the designations will save your family time and money.

Start this process by requesting updated beneficiary designation forms from your insurance carriers and retirement account custodians. Look at the form and identify whether you have a minor designated as either a primary or contingent beneficiary. Minor beneficiaries inherit liquid assets into a Uniform Trust for Minor Account (UTMA). There are two potential issues with UTMA accounts:

  1. Who is the trustee?
  2. The minor gets full control of the account on their 18th birthday.

Therefore, these funds may not be available to the people you’ve named to care for your children unless you have properly documented everything.

If you have no done so yet, consider designating your life insurance and retirement accounts to be distributed to a trust for the benefit of your heirs, providing court and creditor protection, and ensuring your children do not inherit money before they are ready. Take this time to update your beneficiary designations according to what you have discussed with your trusted advisor during your estate planning sessions.

  1. Consider If You Need to Name New Guardians (Long or Short-Term)

If you have minor children, it is crucial that you review your guardian nomination designations. This is a critical review item that I cannot stress enough.

Life is constantly changing and maybe the guardians you have designated are no longer residing in the same state or country. Maybe you no longer feel that the designated guardian can handle the task of becoming a guarding to your beloved children.

If you have named guardians for both the short-term (local) and the long-term (people you would trust to raise your kids fully), now is the time to review and update your guardianship designations. Is there anyone you would wish to exclude? Is there anyone you wish to include?

If you have not designated a guardian for your children, please consider doing so now. Speak with your trusted advisor about appointing a guardian. Indeed, guardian naming is a free service at our firm. What are you waiting for?

  1. Check Out the Title to Your House and Rental Properties

Along with the review of accounts mentioned earlier, get a copy of the deed to your house and make sure the proper names or titles are listed as the owner on the deed. If you want your property to stay out of court in the event of your incapacity or death, you must ensure that it is correctly titled and consistent with your estate planning. If you created a living trust, but see your personal name on the deed, and no trustee is listed, you can be sure that would result in your property having to go through the court process of probate in the event of your death. Depending on your specific plan, there might be other correct titles for our real estate. Examples include joint tenants, by the entireties or an entity. If you don’t want that, now is the perfect time to spruce up your planning.

  1. Come In and Meet With Us For a Family Wealth Planning Session

Last, but far from least, this is the perfect time of the year to come in and meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session, whether you’ve done planning in the past or not.  The summer time is filled with vacations and relaxation but why not add some extra peace of mind knowing that you have a plan in place. Our planning sessions are a working meeting where we work towards the goal to getting you more financially organized and getting your legal ducks in a row. We strive to give you the confidence of knowing you’ve made the most empowered, informed and educated legal and financial decisions for the people you love.