The Essential End-of-Year Estate Plan Checklist

Estate Planning

Rubber Duck

Here are two common questions we hear frequently from new clients. See if these apply to you!

Q. I haven't touched my estate plan in 10 years. What are some of the reasons that I'd need to revisit my plan, and how often should I meet with an attorney?

A. Many people review their estate plan on a regular basis, just to keep up with a busy life, and often at the same time as a review of their financial plan. This is typically done on an annual basis. At a minimum, we'd suggest reviewing your estate plan at least every three to five years, in order to ensure that any major changes in your personal and financial situation are reflected in your will.

Keep in mind that a review should be considered more frequently if various changes occur, such as:

  • Significant increase/decrease in net worth, including inheritances
  • Major changes in asset holdings, such as personal residence, vacation property, or rental properties
  • Changes in your final wishes
  • Asset protection concerns
  • Retirement of yourself or spouse
  • Change in state of residence
  • Changes in federal or state taxation laws
  • The birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
  • Marriage or divorce, for yourself and possibly beneficiaries
  • Death of a spouse or another family member
  • Death or change in circumstances of those named as executor under a will, guardians, trustees under a trust, or agents under powers of attorney

Q. My CPA suggests reviewing tax planning at year-end. Is there such a thing as "end-of-year estate planning?"

A. Yes! Actually, your tax planning strategies may bring up estate planning issues as well. Regardless, here are some items to consider:

End-of-Year Estate Planning Checklist

  • Consider all of the items from the above list, as to recent changes.
  • Consider revisions made necessary by recently enacted tax laws. Also, prepare for new tax laws in the coming year.
  • Gather tax documents for tax return for current year.
  • Review insurance policies.
  • Review and inventory your list of assets for tax and insurance purposes.
  • Review your beneficiary designations for 401K accounts, life insurance policies, etc., and make sure they are current and have the correct contact information.
  • Review the succession plan for your family-owned business.
  • Provide gifts as desired up to the annual gift tax exclusion.
  • Confirm that you are taking the required minimum distribution amounts from retirement accounts and other taxable income sources.

Expert Legal Guidance

At Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC we recognize that some of the most important decisions involve protecting what you have earned, and planning to provide for your loved ones. If you need legal expertise in addressing your specific estate planning needs, please contact Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC at (714) 384-6053 to make an appointment, or use our online contact form. Our website is

About the author:

Tamsen R. Reinheimer
Tamsen R. Reinheimer, Attorney, is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law (The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). She has significant experience in all aspects of estate planning, trust administration, and probate. Contact Tamsen at

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