As the year 2023 winds down, it’s an opportune time to pause and consider the state of your estate planning. The end of the year brings a natural deadline for many critical financial and legal decisions, especially those that can have tax implications or that need to be synchronized with the calendar year. From taking advantage of gift tax exclusions to confirming beneficiary designations, each item on your estate planning checklist is a step toward peace of mind and financial security.


Here's a detailed checklist to help you close out 2023 with confidence, knowing that your estate planning affairs are in order. Remember, estate planning is not a one-time event but an ongoing process that should be revisited regularly, especially as your life circumstances and the laws change.


1. Ensure any intended annual gift tax exclusion gifts ($17,000 or less per recipient; $34,000 per recipient from married couples) are made by 12/31/23 AND those checks are cashed before year end to qualify as 2023 gifts.


2. If you have IRAs or other qualified retirement plans, ensure that your required minimum distribution has been withdrawn before year end if you are 73 or older.


3. If you are planning to make a tax-deductible gift to a charity, ensure the check to the charity or other gift is sent before year end (and request a receipt from the charity to provide to your tax advisor).


4. If you are considering changing your successor trustee or any of the other agents in your estate plan, a good time to discuss these changes with the intended people you want to put in charge is over Thanksgiving or at other family gatherings before year end.


5. Check your Trust Asset Schedule and Asset Excel Spreadsheet for any changes in your assets that may necessitate a trust amendment.


6. Double check retirement plan and life insurance beneficiary designations to ensure they align with your estate plan and the instructions your attorney gave you to update these plans and policies at your last planning meeting.


7. If you have young adult children that are now over 18, ensure that they have set up a Statutory Power of Attorney, an Expanded Durable Power of Attorney, an Advance Health Care Directive, and a HIPAA Authorization to Release Medical Information.


8. If your assets (including real estate, cash accounts, brokerage accounts, businesses, life insurance death benefits, annuities, retirement accounts, etc.) are over $10,000,000 in total and you are married, check your trust document to ensure you have the correct marital funding formula for the best tax planning in preparation for the upcoming sunset of the current estate tax exemption amount.


9. If you’ve purchased or refinanced real estate since your last estate plan update, ensure it is vested on title to your revocable trust or an LLC. If you have a rental property, you may want to explore vesting the property to an LLC instead of your revocable trust for better creditor protection.


10. Review your trust summary document to ensure all your current intended wishes for the management and settlement of your estate are in alignment.


If you need help with any of these issues or anything else related to your estate plan, please contact our Intake Department at 760-448-2220 or at have offices in San Diego (Carlsbad) and Orange Counties (Laguna Niguel), but we assist can families throughout California as well.



Brenda Geiger is the CEO and Managing Attorney of Geiger Law Office, P.C. and has been working as a trusts and estates attorney for over 20 years.  She opened Geiger Law Office, P.C. in 2007 and has helped over 4,000 families create estate plans to protect their loved ones.  Brenda has authored several books on Trusts, Elder Law and Business Law topics and is an active member of theh North County San Diego Bar Association and the North County Estate Planning Counsel.  Brenda attended the University of San Diego for both undergrad and law school.  In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children traveling and watching soccer.

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