With Thanksgiving already behind us and Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, things are slowing down for many people. Schools are finishing up for the semester, work projects are ending, and vacations are starting. If you have extra time over the next few weeks, consider taking a few minutes to reflect on your estate plan! Here are some examples.
Review Your Will
As the most common – and arguably most important – part of your estate plan, your will is something, you should review regularly. Even though things don’t change from year to year for most people, you want to ensure that any changes that have occurred are accounted for.
For example, let’s say you’re a Millennial. Millennials right now are young professionals with a lot going on, such as starting businesses, getting married, or having children. These are significant, life-changing events, and their wills should be updated to reflect those changes.
Or maybe you’re a bit older and recently got divorced. You should ensure your will reflects your wishes now that you’ve separated from your spouse. For example, maybe you’d had all of your assets going to your spouse, but now you want to ensure everything passes on to your children and grandchildren.
Go Over Your Revocable Trusts
Revocable trusts – also called living trusts – are another crucial part of your estate plan. Unlike irrevocable trusts, you can (usually) make changes to a living trust as long as you’re… well, living.
If you still need to set up a trust because you’ve always thought they were only for the super wealthy – think again. We always advise our clients to at least consider opening a trust.
Trusts can control the distribution of your assets, meaning your assets don’t get stuck in probate.
Trusts can provide tax protection benefits to your beneficiaries, so they can keep more of that hard-earned money you want to pass on.
Now is a good time of year to ensure your trusts are set up or accurate.
Check Your Power of Attorney
What’s going on with your power of attorney? Does it currently have your sister, who went a little crazy over the last few years, listed as your POA? Maybe it shows your now-ex as having power of attorney in case you’re unable to make financial or medical decisions yourself?
Those types of things may sound silly, but they happen. Sometimes an estate plan is set up, but the power of attorney isn’t updated after a significant life event. Then when the person has a medical issue and can’t make decisions themselves, the POA is granted to someone who wouldn’t be their first choice.
Review Your Retirement Assets
The last thing we’ll mention is your retirement assets. In fact, this is a good time of year to look at all of your assets in general.
For example, you may realize there are things you can do to lower your tax bill if you take action before the end of the year. But you’ll never know if you don’t take a look!
Now is a great time to reflect on your estate plan. When you work with an expert estate planning attorney, it will be done thoroughly and quicker than you may think. Call us at 714-663-8000, and we’ll set up a time to discuss everything with you soon.