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Estate plan needs tending

As Miami's baby boomers age and prepare their estate plans, they express a sigh of relief that that long-dreaded project is over.

Or is it? Experts say no. Estate planning continues throughout a person's lifetime.

Financial experts said baby boomers should revisit their estate plans frequently, perhaps once a year. Life circumstances change, as do assets, and people do not always think to update their estate documents accordingly. Here are five expert tips on how to keep an estate plan in top shape:

  • 1. Visit a financial planner or estate planning attorney once a year for an analysis of tax returns. The professional will review the tax returns to look at things such as the amount of taxable interest. If it is high, then the professionals might recommend switching financial strategies, such as putting funds into something like tax-free municipal bonds. Or, they could recommend selling stocks at a loss to use the losses to offset capital gains.
  • 2. Review with an adviser the estate plan to make sure the beneficiaries are still correct. Has there been a divorce, death or new addition to the family? The estate plan should reflect those changes and could require significant paperwork.
  • 3. Review retirement planning to again make sure that beneficiaries are correct, as well as to prepare a retirement cash flow analysis. That will show baby boomers how much money they will have to spend the rest of their lives.
  • 4. Study life insurance policies to see if it is worthwhile to still hold on to the policies. When a person reaches a certain amount of assets, the policies no longer are necessary. Additionally, baby boomers should seek a long-term care analysis to plan for potential stays in nursing homes.
  • 5. Review investment planning to make sure a portfolio has diverse holdings. Most people need to hold assets in several different asset classes.

Just as an annual physical is important to maintain a person's health, an annual estate plan review is important to make sure the best plans have been laid for the future.

Source: Fox Business, "What Boomers Need to Know About Estate Planning," Casey Dowd, Sept. 13, 2012

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