Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution: Create an Estate Plan in 2015
As we breath a collective sigh of a relief now that the holidays are over, the decorations have been stored, and spring seems just around the corner, many of us direct our attention to fulfilling our New Year’s Resolutions. One important resolution you should consider completing in 2015 is creating your estate plan. Estate planning is a necessity that is too often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In fact a study by LexisNexis determined that more than half of all Americans do not have a will or an estate plan in place. If something happens to you, you don’t want to leave your family and loved ones trying to determine your wishes, or a judge deciding who should care for your minor children. A comprehensive estate plan will help them avoid the frustration and expense of trying to manage your affairs without your guidance, and give them the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be followed.
If you’re prepared and already have an estate plan, remember that an outdated estate plan is almost as bad as not having an estate plan. We recommend reviewing your estate plan every five years or after a major life event like the birth of a child, to ensure your estate plan is kept current and meets your needs.
For those of you considering a new or revised estate plan with the hopes of accomplishing at least one resolution in 2015, here is a checklist to get you started:
1. Identify your goals and objectives in the event of your death or disability.
2. Draft basic documents with the help of an attorney including a will with a guardianship statement if you have minor children and durable powers of attorney for your health care and finances.
3. Create a brief inventory of your assets and any liabilities, including information about your bank accounts, life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
4. Resolve to check your beneficiary designations. Many people often mistakenly believe that the distribution provisions of their Will or Trust govern the distribution of their IRAs, 401ks, life insurance policies and other payable on death accounts. This is generally not true. The beneficiary designation form on file with the financial institution, insurance company or HR department typically determine who will receive these benefits at your death. Because life brings many changes–like marriage, the birth of children, and the death of loved ones–it is important to frequently revisit your beneficiary designations.
5. Prepare a file and communicate its location to your loved ones. It’s always a good idea to store your estate planning documents together in a safe location like in a safety deposit box or with your attorney, so that your loved ones have all the information they need if something happens to you and you cannot act for yourself. Make sure they know where the file is located and who to contact when needed.
Although creating an estate plan is not as exciting as a vacation or some other New Year’s resolutions, it is important to ensure you have an adequate plan in place that accurately reflects your wishes.
Contact Skye Ferrera today at [email protected] and schedule your free estate planning consultation.
This blog is for educational purposes only, and not to provide specific legal advice. You understand that there is no attorney client relationship established between you and the blog site publisher by using this blog. If you are seeking legal advice about your specific situation, please contact a licensed attorney.