“I’ve found that the two most common times clients revise an estate plan are when a vacation is coming up and when a friend or family member has just died or received a bad diagnosis,” writes Patricia Annino in the CPA Insider. Pointing out the obvious, Annino observes that neither of these events represents a good time to do proper planning.

“It may be helpful for you to bring up certain key issues with clients who are on the fence about estate planning,” Annino tells accountants.  “You don’t want to have to deal with a death, a serious illness, or other unforeseen event without a proper estate plan in place,” she cautions.

Just a few of those issues to keep in mind when helping clients with their estate planning, advises the Dallas Bar Association, include:

  1. Minors do not have the legal capacity to manage property. (Assets generally should not be left directly to them unless one desires an expensive and burdensome guardianship proceeding.)
  2. Clients who own interests in S corporations and who use trusts in their wills must have special provisions to avoid jeopardizing the S corporation election.
  3. Non-probate assets are sometimes overlooked in the planning process because they don’t pass through the client’s will.  That includes IRAs, 401(k)s and other pensions, life insurance, annuities, plus POD and TOD accounts. These assets need to be properly coordinated with the client’s estate planning.
  4. In order for both spouses’ exemptions from Federal estate tax to be used without needing to include a so-called “bypass trust”, a special Form 706 must be filed to make the portability election within 9 months of the death of the first spouse to die.

When clients request an appointment at Geyer & Associates, telling us that an upcoming vacation was what motivated them to “have their will done”, we appreciate that they’re doing the right thing, even if the timing isn’t the best. And, if the fact that someone close to them has been confronted with a life-altering diagnosis has forced them to confront their own mortality, that’s a motivating factor that can launch their own estate planning process.

Certain things should be taken care of before you leave on that trip, we advise. Basic documents include:

  • A will
  • A power of attorney
  • A healthcare power of attorney
  • A living will
  • Guardian assignments for children
  • Guardian assignments for pets

When it comes to estate planning, any reason is a good reason to get started!