Ask an Attorney: Review your estate plan basics

The COVID-19 pandemic has offered a great reminder to review the elements of your estate plan.

Below are some key items to consider. Consider setting up a call with Ericson, Scalise & Mangan to consider any specific details related to your own plan.

Here are some suggestions:

  Review your health care proxy and power of attorney. Be sure you are comfortable with your choices of who will make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. For each, have a backup in place in case the first person is unavailable. Now is the time to have new documents created if yours no longer apply. These choices apply for any decisions made for you while you are still alive.

  Revise your will. Decide whether you want to keep the executor you have named for your estate, and make sure you name a backup. This person will be responsible for validating your will when you die, handling your affairs, and filing your income and estate tax returns. Be sure you have included a guardian for any minor children, as well as backup for that guardian.

  Review your trust and take a look at the beneficiaries. Decide whether you want them to be given the income outright or over time or if you want to have the funds held for them in a trust, especially if the beneficiaries are minors. Ensure that you feel good about your choice of trustee, whether it is an individual, such as your attorney or accountant, or a corporate entity, such as a bank.

  Make sure your trust is funded. It is helpful for you to fund your trust while you are alive, because that way your assets can be managed to support you while living if you are unable to make decisions on your own. It also avoids a court’s involvement to administer the trust after your death.

  Review your beneficiaries on all of your accounts, which include retirement accounts, brokerage accounts and life insurance policies. Any joint assets, such as a bank account, will pass to the surviving owner.

  Consider asset protection. If you get sick and need long-term care, how will the cost be paid? If you do not have sufficient long-term care insurance, you may want to consider creating an irrevocable trust to protect your assets.

Robert A. Scalise Jr. is a partner of Ericson, Scalise & Mangan, PC in New Britain. For information, visit