The beginning of a new year is an invitation to review what you’ve accomplished the prior year and to think about what things you might like to accomplish this year. As your make your 2019 New Years Resolutions, I’d like to suggest that you take some time this year to think about your estate plan.
If you don’t have a plan yet… consider making one! Keep in mind that just because you haven’t done any formal planning doesn’t mean you don’t have a plan. Without your own plan, the government will make decisions for you. State laws govern what happens to your assets when you pass away, and in some cases state laws govern who makes decisions for you if you need help doing so. But these default rules are set aside if you make your own plans and turn those plans into legal documents. So, if you don’t yet have a plan, make a resolution in 2019 to sit down with an estate planning attorney and discuss your wishes and make a plan. If nothing else, make sure you get a health care directive if you don’t already have one.
If you already have an estate plan… consider reviewing it to make sure it’s still consistent with your wishes. Ask yourself whether there have been any major life changes since you last did your estate planning documents. Have you moved? Has a spouse, child, or other beneficiary or person named in your documents passed away? Have minor children reached adulthood? Did you give or loan money to a beneficiary, and you want that beneficiary’s share reduced to reflect that? Were you or your spouse diagnosed with a long-term, serious illness that may require long-term care? Was a beneficiary diagnosed with a permanent disability? Have you acquired real estate? Do your assets now total more than $3 million? Did you or a beneficiary go through a divorce? Do your documents simply not make sense to you anymore? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should talk to an estate planning attorney about whether your documents need to be updated or changed.
Estate planning doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, and knowing that you have a plan in place provides significant peace of mind for both you and your family. Contact me or one of our estate planning attorneys at FMJ to discuss options for your estate plan in the new year.
Happy new year!