Financial resolutions are common at this time of year. Many people resolve to save more money, find a better-paying job, or finally create an investment plan. Far fewer, however, think of the New Year as a time to ensure that existing assets are protected, for themselves and future generations. This year, why not resolve to make sure you have a solid and up-to-date estate plan?
Regularly updating your estate plan will help ensure that:
- Your assets are efficiently transferred to the people you choose, should you pass away.
- Your assets are managed and protected by someone you trust in the event of temporary incapacity.
- You choose who makes medical decisions for you if you are unable.
- You or another trusted person has the authority to make medical decisions for those close to you, such as adult children.
The specific issues and documents you’ll need to review and update will depend in part on your family circumstances. Some common considerations include:
- Ensuring that your will accurately reflects your current wishes and your current family situation.
- If you have a revocable trust, making sure that newly acquired property has been properly titled and that trust beneficiaries are up to date.
- Ensuring that each adult family has a valid health care proxy and HIPAA release so that his or her wishes will be carried out in the event that he or she is unable to make medical decisions.
- Ensuring that each adult family member has a durable power of attorney or other mechanism in place to allow a trusted friend or relative to handle financial and other affairs in the event of incapacity.
One of the most common reasons that people don’t create or update estate plans is that they think they have plenty of time to consider these issues and make arrangements for the future. Often, they’re right. However, when someone passes away suddenly or is mentally or physically incapacitated, lack of preparation can be catastrophic.
Neglecting estate planning may mean that someone you wouldn’t have chosen is entrusted with critical medical decision-making, that no one has the authority to pay your bills and otherwise manage your finances if you are incapacitated, and that your property may not pass to those closest to you if you pass away unexpectedly.
Making sure your estate plan is in order with a regular review is also important to minimizing the likelihood that contentious issues may arise among your heirs. An estate attorney can advise you on how best to prevent such conflicts and avoid the issues that give rise to estate litigation.
Start 2018 strong by ensuring that your interests and the people you love are protected. If you are in the Center or North Florida area, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our experienced estate planning attorneys or call us at (386) 272-7445.
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