Once your estate plan is completed, signed, notarized and witnessed as appropriate, you’re probably breathing a huge sigh of relief. But don’t leave that estate plan on a shelf to gather dust. Make sure you complete the following steps.
- Review your estate plan for completeness
It’s a good idea to review all your legal documents to ensure they are complete and accurate. Everything should be signed, dated, and notarized (if required). Make sure you have a copy of your recorded deed, if you have real property in your trust. Follow up with your attorney if you’re not sure about the status of your deed. If you are a Norton Basu client, we will do this for you!
- Make sure you have a high-quality scanned copy of all your important legal documents.
It’s important to make high quality scans of all your legal documents. This includes anything related to home ownership, custody, estate planning, guardianship, and child support. A high-quality scan will make printing and copying these documents much easier. Low quality scans can cause problems for your family, your attorney, and/or the court. If your home printer is not able to create a high-quality scan, many apps for your smartphone easily create high quality scans of documents that you can email to your family, friends, or yourself. A local FedEx or UPS office will also have the ability to create high quality scans on their copy machines for a low cost.
- Label all your documents clearly.
Don’t save your documents as Scan1, Scan2, etc. Make sure everything is labeled accurately and includes dates the document was finalized or signed. This will help you to keep your documents organized.
- Use cloud storage.
Keep scans of your documents in a secure cloud storage account if possible. This allows you to access the documents remotely and allows the right people to get the documents they need. Provide links to certain documents to the relevant people in your life. For example, if you’ve nominated your brother as the guardian for your child, make sure your brother has a link to the scanned copy of the nomination of guardian document and any other documents that are relevant to your situation.
- Review your estate plan annually
Your estate plan is a living, breathing document. This means that your plan should adapt as your life changes or your priorities shift. What you thought was a good solution for your heirs when you are 35 can be different than what you think when you’re 50. Review your document every year for changes in beneficiaries or distributions based on your life changes and relationships. You should also check your estate plan for changes in the law. If you’re a Norton Basu client, you don’t have to worry about this. We reach out to our clients every year with an annual update detailing changes in the law.
Remember, it’s not “One and Done” with your estate plan. Make sure you take that binder off the shelf regularly and review it for potential changes.