Trust & Estate Planning, Financial Planning

Estate Planning, Part 2: Understanding and Implementing Your Plan

June 04, 2024

couple shaking hands

Lauren K. Drury, Esq.
Vice President and Chief Fiduciary Officer
Washington Trust Wealth Management

Completing an estate plan is just the first step; now comes the important 8-step checklist to ensure that your wishes are carried out according to plan. 

  1. Review your estate planning documents. Before signing any legal documents related to your estate plan—including your will, trust agreements, powers of attorney, and advance directives—take time to carefully review them. Make sure you fully understand every piece (ask questions if you don’t!), double check that all names and contact information are correct, and make sure the documents accurately reflect your wishes and intentions.  
  2. Identify and notify key parties. Identify the key individuals and institutions involved in your estate plan, such as executors, trustees, guardians for minor children, and beneficiaries. Ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities in the event of your incapacitation or death. Provide copies of important documents and the location of the originals, if needed. If you have decided on a corporate trustee, ask them to review your estate plan to determine if they are able and willing to serve in that role. 
  3. Communicate your wishes with your family. It's essential to communicate your estate plan with your family members and loved ones to ensure they understand your wishes and intentions. Open and honest communication can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure everyone is on the same page.
  4. Retitle assets and update beneficiary designations. In order for your estate plan to be efficiently carried out (and potentially avoid probate) and streamline the distribution process, work with your attorney and wealth advisor to retitle your assets to match the corresponding titles on your estate plan. And don’t forget to update your beneficiary designations. Pay close attention to the deeds and names on your house, trusts, real estate, and special assets (e.g., LLCs, partnerships, time shares).
  5. Organize your financial and legal documents. Gather all relevant financial and legal documents, including deeds, titles, bank statements, investment accounts, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. Organize these documents in a secure and easily accessible location and share a detailed inventory with your executor or trustee.
  6. Establish funding for trusts. If you've created trusts as part of your estate plan, work with your trusted advisors to transfer assets into trust ownership according to the terms of your trust agreements.  
  7. Know your property and how it’s divided. Take the time to thoroughly understand what property you own and how it's divided according to your estate plan. Make sure your advisors and family members have an updated and detailed list of all your assets and their respective beneficiaries or trustees.  
  8. Review and update your estate plan regularly. Estate planning is not a one-time event; it requires ongoing review and updates. Schedule regular reviews of your estate plan every five years or whenever there are significant changes in tax laws, life events (e.g., marriage, divorce, birth of children or grandchildren), or your financial situation. Keep your attorney and financial advisors informed of any changes in your circumstances or objectives that may impact your estate plan.

Washington Trust Wealth Management Can Help 

When it comes to estate planning, our qualified wealth advisors act as quarterback of your team, making sure all the right players are on the field and working for you. We can facilitate family meetings, review and update estate plan documents, and walk you through the process step by step to ensure your wishes are carried out according to your intentions, giving peace of mind and protection for you and your loved ones. 

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No matter where you are in life, we can help. Get started with one of our experts today. Contact us at 800-582-1076 or submit an online form.

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