Time for an Estate Planning Tune-Up

As the end of the year approaches, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to consider estate planning. Why not make it your New Year’s Resolution this year? Granted, discussing estate planning is not the most fun or exciting thing that you can do, but this is a situation where the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true.

Most of the time, you will want to think through a couple of different situations. First, what happens if you pass away? Second, what happens if you become incapacitated? The answers to these questions are different for each person. But, it is true for everyone that having the appropriate documents in place can make things much easier for you and your family if a bad situation occurs and allow you, rather than a court, to make key decisions in these situations.

Depending on your situation, a Will or a Trust might be the appropriate way to handle distributing assets you own if you were to die. In this document you will be able to direct how your assets are to be distributed and who will be in charge of distributing the assets. If you do not have a document in place, then the law will determine who would receive your assets and the distribution the law sets out may or may not be what you would like. Additionally, administering an estate without a Will or Trust in place can be more time-consuming and costly for your family.

If you become incapacitated, then you will need someone to step in and handle financial matters and make healthcare decisions for you. You are able to appoint someone to these positions and give that person guidance on things you do and don’t want to happen through a financial power of attorney and a healthcare directive. If you do not have these documents in place, there is a process to appoint someone to these positions if you were to become incapacitated, but this process requires a court filing and hearing, which adds to the expense and the stress on everyone involved.

Finally, naming beneficiaries on accounts is a popular way to transfer those accounts in the event you were to pass away. It’s a good idea to double-check the identities of any beneficiaries you have named to make sure that it is in line with your wishes.

While most people agree that it would be great to be able to think about estate planning once and never have to look at it again, the fact is that life changes, and the law changes, and it’s best to have a plan to review your documents on a regular basis. If you need any assistance in reviewing your documents or want to discuss the consequences of the documents you have in place, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us.