A New Year’s Resolution?

New year fresh start message written on paper

It’s that time of year again!  Time to make New Year’s Resolutions like losing weight and saving more money. 

Whatever your resolution, I recommend that you also resolve to review your existing estate planning documents.  Most estate plans are updated, on average, only every 20 years!  Imagine all the life changes in 20 years that can impact your plan and prevent it from ensuring your wishes are carried out.

  1. Review the changes in your life since you last updated your estate planning documents.

Have you gotten married or divorced?  Have you had a child or adopted a child?  Moved to a different state?  Had a death in the family?  Had a major financial event?  Any of these life changes can affect your plan, and your estate planning documents may need to be updated to reflect these changes.

  1. Review your Last Will and Testament and/or Revocable Living Trust. Two big items to review are:

Personal Representative and Trustee designations: the individual(s) and/or institution you name should be one you consider responsible and trustworthy.  If you designate more than one trustee, consider whether the two individuals you designate get along and will be able to work together.

Beneficiaries: it is important to review who is designated to receive your property after your death, including any outright monetary gifts, to ensure these designations remain up to date and reflect your current wishes.

  1. Review your Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney allows your named agent to act for you for financial, business and legal matters.  It is essential to review your agent designation regularly to ensure that person continues to be someone you trust to deal with these sensitive matters.

  1. Review your Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will.

Your health care power of attorney appoints one or more individuals to make everyday health care decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.  Your living will shares your end of life wishes if you are mentally incapacitated and have a life-threatening condition. Review all of your health care directives to ensure the persons you have appointed are mature persons you trust to step into your shoes and make major medical decisions for you.

  1. Review the Beneficiary Designations on your Insurance and Retirement Plans.

Last, but certainly not least, anytime you make a change to your estate plan you should ensure that the beneficiary designations on financial accounts, life insurance and retirement plans do not contradict your wishes. These designations are often overlooked yet can result is a result contrary to your written will or trust if not these designations are not properly executed and coordinated.

If you would like to schedule a time to review your current plan and discuss changes in your life or applicable law, please call me today for a free consultation.

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