3 Year-End Estate Planning Action Items Most People Should Consider (But Usually Don't)

by JD Supra Perspectives

You would be surprised at how many family disputes after death result from disagreements over disposition of personal belongings... - Dana Perry, Chambliss

In your experience, what is the one thing people don't do but should, when it comes to year-end estate planning activities? That's the question we put to experts writing on JD Supra. Here's what we heard back:

1. Review your health care advance directives

From Dana Perry, managing partner at Chambliss: "Many people go years without updating these important documents. Even if you do not update the document, give copies to your loved ones or discuss your wishes with your family. Make sure you address the following:

  • Who is currently appointed to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated?
  • What are your wishes regarding your continued care if you are very ill?
  • Does your significant other and next of kin really know and understand your wishes for end-of-life treatment?
  • Have you delivered copies of the document to the persons you have named as your decision-makers?"

2. Make sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date

From Lori Murphy, a shareholder at Bean, Kinney & Korman: "It is crucial to review beneficiary designation forms for retirement accounts, brokerage accounts and bank accounts. First, people should do this to ensure that a beneficiary is named (many clients have accounts with no beneficiary designated) and second, to avoid probate of those accounts. However, never name a minor child as a beneficiary since it requires something called a 'guardianship estate.' If your estate is to pass to minor children, please contact an attorney to learn about better options of how to pass assets to children."

3. Consider a Qualified Charitable Distribution

From Kristin Matsko, attorney at Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP: "I advise clients to consider the qualified charitable distribution rule ('QCD') which was reinstated through December 31, 2013 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act. This rule permits individuals over age 70 ½ to use their required minimum distributions to make charitable distributions up to $100,000 directly from their traditional IRAs. This is a win-win: the QCDs aren’t subject to ordinary federal income taxes, and our clients are able to meet their required minimum distribution requirements while supporting those charitable causes that are most important to them."


And a bonus item, because there's no such thing as too much (estate) planning:

4. Talk to your children about disposition of your personal belongings

Again from Dana Perry at Chambliss: "You would be surprised at how many family disputes after death result from disagreements over disposition of personal belongings. Many of these assets, like 'grandma’s rocking chair' have no significant financial value, but have a strong emotional connection. Another related area that should be discussed is the value, disposition and provenance of collections, such as artworks. Make sure you address the following:

  • Do your children want or need your furnishings and personal items?
  • Do they all want the same two or three items?
  • Does your family know where you keep documentation of the purchase price and potential value of collection items?"


Written by:

JD Supra Perspectives

JD Supra Perspectives on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.