While Americans have definitely paid more attention to estate planning in the last several years, not enough are yet taking estate planning as seriously as they should. According to WealthManagement.com citing a survey from Caring.com, only slightly over 40 percent of Americans have estate planning documents in place. The number of those individuals that have a healthcare power of attorney document in place is even lower. It is critical for all Americans to consider comprehensive estate planning as an important part of aging and responsible financial planning. It’s also important to remember that effective estate planning doesn’t end at the creation of an estate plan, but also includes modifying that plan as your individual circumstances may dictate.
Planning in Politically Volatile Times
The last year has seen a great deal of political turmoil both here in the United States and in countries around the world. Regardless of how you may feel about these events, they may have a serious impact on your estate planning. One such event is the United Kingdom’s successful referendum to leave the European Union. Many retirement investment accounts were affected or even frozen because of the decision to leave the European Union, and many investors are still trying to figure out how to cope with these changes. If you have assets that could be affected by these types of political changes, it is important to work with a financial planner as well as an estate planning attorney to make sure that your estate plan accounts for these changes.
Closer to home, surveys indicate that the new administration has changed the way many people view investments and trading. Online investment company E*Trade’s latest StreetWise Report indicates that three out of five investors aged 25 to 34, 36 percent of investors aged 35-54, and 20 percent of investors over the age of 55 have made trades based on tweets sent by the President. With these increasingly common changes and shifts come the potential for parts of your investments require more in-depth estate planning tools.
Investment Changes Can Impact Estate Planning
Many investors have made the decision to make dramatic changes to their investment portfolios by changing allocations or moving away from certain options. While keeping abreast of changes that could benefit your investment accounts is important, it is essential to remember that changing investment and retirement portfolios can have significant tax consequences that also need to be considered.
Additionally, broadening your investment and/or retirement portfolios increases the risk of forfeiting much of the return in situations where you do not have proper estate planning mechanisms in place. If you modify investment portfolios, it is important to make sure that any documentation that might accompany those modifications has been taken care of appropriately. This could include beneficiary forms or the creation of a trust to help manage wealth and assets. If you have an investment and/or retirement portfolio, you need to take estate planning seriously. Each time you make modifications to these portfolios, you should discuss the changes with your estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan is also kept up to date.