We know that there are different types of estate planning designed to protect our assets and direct how to distribute or utilize them. There are trusts, for example, set up as a separate entity to manage or distribute assets under certain conditions, during life and even beyond death. There are also wills, designed to distribute assets in your name upon death, rather than manage them for an extended period thereafter. Finally, financial powers of attorney are available to manage assets in your name during life in the event you are unable to. Once these plans are in place, does your fiduciary (such as the executor of your will, trustee of your trust, or power of attorney) know what all of those assets are and where to look for them when it’s time for them to act?
In addition, many assets are separate from our estate or trusts because they already have beneficiaries designated in a contract or policy (such as life insurance or 401k plan). Do those beneficiaries know where to look or whom to contact in the event the money holder (e.g. the life insurance company) can no longer locate them to distribute funds?
This is an important part of your estate plan review that may even involve sitting down with your future fiduciary (who may be family or otherwise) to discuss inventory and ensure the plan is administered smoothly. If the estate or trust inventory is not updated or reviewed periodically, some assets may be inadvertently missed. As a result, many estates (for example) reopen after being closed when unknown assets are later discovered. This can lead to unnecessary administrative costs or legal fees.
Therefore, it is important that my clients are guided in maintaining an inventory or schedule of assets for their estate plan. By doing so, they and their fiduciaries are aware of what assets are in their estate or trust and how to efficiently access them. For those who are unaware of the status of their assets as it relates to their plan, now is the time to start. Contact Gee Law for a free consultation.
Kevin Gee is an experienced Michigan attorney ready to assist you with your business and estate planning needs.