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Take stock now of your estate plan

You've done your due diligence and drafted your estate planning documents. You should be good to go, right?

Not necessarily. You might still need to refine your estate plan in order to better protect your assets. You also might want to provide a certain level of control and peace of mind for your loved ones. Read on to see if you need to do any of the following:

Review your beneficiary designations

This is especially important if some time has passed since you drafted your estate plan and/or you have married, divorced or your children have reached adulthood.

Funds and resources that are transferred via beneficiary designations bypass the probate process and are ancillary to the rest of your estate. That means that these designations supersede any stated intentions in your will.

Suppose you were once married to a woman named Lisa to whom you designated as the beneficiary for your 401(k). Later, you and Lisa divorced and you married Cheri. Your will states that all of your estate will pass to Cheri. But unless you specifically change it, the 401(k) remains earmarked for Lisa.

Alternatively, if your children were minors when you created your estate plan, you may have intended to leave your 401(k) to them in a trust. Now that they are adults with kids of their own, you'd like your wife or grandchildren to be your beneficiaries. Make sure that you make this change.

Is your life insurance sufficient?

Young families need a large amount of life insurance, whereas older couples may be able to get by with less. Still, you want your spouse to live out their days in comfort without worrying how they will get by.

Your life insurance policy can provide your survivors with cash flow and liquidity. This is particularly important if your estate consists of many illiquid assets, e.g., collections, farm or company.

Is it time to revisit your estate plan?

The final months of the year are a good time to put your affairs in order, and revisit your estate plan before starting the new year.

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