Estate Planning Steps and Reminders

Estate planning is easy to overlook but incredibly important when designing your wealth and legacy strategy.  While an estate attorney should be your primary resource on this topic, our team sees first-hand how these oversights financially impact clients, thus wanted share some guidance. As always, we’re here to answer any questions you may have, or perhaps provide a recommendation to a trusted attorney. 

1. Beneficiary Designations and Updates

Make sure your beneficiaries are up to date on your financial accounts. These can include brokerage accounts, IRAs, life insurance policies, bank accounts, and more. Consult with your attorney about ways to transfer accounts to your beneficiaries (known as TOD – Transfer on Death) – this could enable funds to skip the probate process. Moreover, updating your beneficiaries will ensure that your assets are distributed to the right people later on. While your will may name certain people, be sure that your beneficiaries are updated on your investment accounts to avoid confusion down the road. Again, consult with your attorney for your estate plan, but please reach out to our team if you would like to make a beneficiary designation or update with your account(s) on file with Centerpoint.


2. Financial Power of Attorney

If you become incapacitated or unable to handle your affairs, having a durable financial power of attorney can help. It will ensure that the person of your choice has the authority to act on your behalf during your lifetime. A financial power of attorney differs from account ownership; consult with your attorney to ensure your desired plan is in place.


3. Take Inventory of Your Assets

Regardless of the amount of assets stored as fact in your memory, it is a valuable financial exercise to take a full inventory. You can start by looking around your house–it may be surprising when you tally up the total of your finds! During the process, some things to consider are your primary residence, other properties, collectibles, art, coins, vehicles, boats, and any other valuable, tangible possessions. The inventory list may also be helpful for another recommended housekeeping exercise – a review of your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage.  

Next, consider the intangibles. These can include life insurance policies, retirement accounts (RA, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, SEP IRAs, pensions, etc.), checking accounts, savings accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, health savings accounts, and more.  

Once you have all of these things accounted for, it’s time to put a value on them. You can do so for things like real estate or coin collections by ordering appraisals. At a minimum, do your research so that you can have an approximate value on each asset. By doing so, you can obtain peace of mind knowing that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.

After you have a complete inventory of your assets, you should make sure that your documents are well-organized and stored securely. These documents include insurance policies, deeds to real estate, titles to vehicles, boats, wills, trusts, bank account information, retirement account information, safety deposit boxes, debt statements, funeral plans, and anything else relevant to your situation. If you are a Centerpoint client, these values can also be stored conveniently in your MyCenter portal.


4. Consult with an Attorney

Estates come in all different sizes. Regardless of the size of your estate, consulting with an estate attorney is always suggested. At a minimum, consulting with a tax professional can provide value. Taking these steps can alleviate any doubts you may have about the probate process, taxation, or distribution of your assets. An estate attorney can help you create a plan or determine if your planning is adequate for your circumstances.

Living trusts, your will, revocable trusts, business succession arrangements, inherited properties of minors, and POAs are all additional things that you should discuss with your attorney.

In closing, it is never too early or too late in life to make these prudent financial arrangements. While this administrative item can seem daunting, your preparation will an everlasting gift to your loved ones. If you need help getting started, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here. 




The information and analysis expressed herein is for general and educational purposes only. You should make your investment decisions based on your personal financial goals and the reward/risk level with which you feel comfortable.  Investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal.  Past performance does not guarantee future results. Please consult Centerpoint Advisors, LLC about your investment needs, investment objectives, risk tolerance and any changes in your life that may impact your financial objectives.