Estate Planning Resolutions For The New Year
The potential for your estate plan to change exists as long as you do. While it is a huge step to establish an estate plan that meets your immediate needs, it’s important to remember that your needs evolve over the course of your lifetime. You may need to update your estate plan to reflect these changes. Depending on the complexity of your estate and the occurrence of any major or significant life changes, it’s a good rule of thumb to check in on your estate plan and update it about once a year. The start of the new year is a great time to review your estate plan with your attorney and make sure that everything is up to date and that it still accurately reflects and supports your long-term goals, which naturally evolve over time.
Things to Check in on:
- Your will. Make sure that your will still accurately reflects your financial wishes and consider whether other legal structures that avoid probate may be an alternative for assets currently covered by your will. Make sure that all beneficiaries are still alive and that no changes have been made to their names or relevant marital statuses. If you have married, divorced, had any children, started a business, or acquired or dispersed any major assets since the last update to your documents, these will also be important changes to reflect. If you have a spouse or dependents, it is also a good idea to ensure that your spouse will have access to necessary non-probate assets, such as a joint-checking account or other financial accounts. Adding a right to survivorship allows the assets to be transferred automatically to your spouse upon your death.
- Durable Power of Attorney. Everyone should have a durable power of attorney, particularly during a global pandemic. If you do not have a durable power of attorney, you can put one into effect, which essentially grants an individual that you trust the power to take care of your medical or financial decisions in the event that you are determined to be incapacitated and unable to make such decisions for yourself. It’s important to have this document because without it if you become incapacitated your guardianship hearings will likely be instituted, which will result in you having far less say over your care than you would otherwise.
- Living Will. A living will, also known as an advanced medical directive, takes effect if you happen to be in an end-stage medical condition or permanently unconscious, and dictates how you want to be cared for.
By keeping your will and other estate documents up to date you can start each year with the comfort of mind of knowing that you have a well-established safety net of medical and financial decisions already set up the way you want it.
Talk to an Estate Attorney
If you are ready to update your estate plan or would like to develop one, West Palm Beach estate planning lawyer Larry E. Bray is ready to help you create a plan that meets your needs and that can grow and evolve with you as your life progresses. Contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray and schedule a consultation today so that you can start the new year off on the right foot.