2020, a year full of many upheavals, is coming to a close. Our estate planning team is here to relieve some of your stress to ensure there is a plan in place for you and your family. Many people believe the holiday season represents a point too far into the calendar to make changes. However, the end of the year can be a convenient time to make goals, reflect on major life changes, and plan for the future. Here are some helpful tips for you and your family as we approach 2021.
Top Estate Planning Considerations for Closing Out 2020
- Complete your estate plan: Have you been putting off completing your estate plan? The holidays are a perfect time to discuss these decisions with your family, finalize the details, and set your plan in motion. As you are reflecting on 2020, consider these important life decisions. You do not want to leave things up to state laws!
- Review your estate plan: Families are constantly evolving. This year, you may have added new family members or lost loved ones. When circumstances change in your life, make sure they are reflected in your estate plan. Most estate planning documents can be updated to reflect these changes. You should review your documents every three years to make sure they are up to date, or when you experience a major life event such as marriage, welcoming a child or grandchild, etc. The end of the year is a perfect time to do this.
- Review your account ownership: While your estate planning documents may not determine how these accounts are transferred, they are an important piece of the puzzle. This includes joint owner or pay on death beneficiaries, and the primary and contingent beneficiary on your life insurance and retirement plans. These accounts and plans should be reviewed every time you review your estate planning documents. It may also be useful to keep an up-to-date list of your bank and investment accounts.
- Discuss your health care documents with your family: Everyone should have health care documents that designate an agent to make health care and financial decisions for you if you are unable to make the decisions yourself. This includes an Advance Directives, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Authorizations, and a Health Care Proxy that allows you to determine your treatment preferences if you are unable to make decisions about your own care. These documents are crucial to ensuring your family is updated on your medical care. Other documents, such as a Power of Attorney, may also be useful should you be unable to make decisions for yourself. Make sure to discuss your wishes with your loved ones and keep these documents in a safe place. Do not forget to let your loved ones know where to find these documents and provide copies to your agent(s). Especially this year, it is important your wishes are reflected in your health care.
- Consider obtaining life insurance: Life insurance is an important tool. If something tragic were to happen to you, life insurance can help reduce the financial burden on your family by replacing your income during an already difficult time. If you have dependent children or others who rely on you, this may be a necessary step to make sure they are protected. In any case, it is always a good to have life insurance to help ensure your burial, funeral, or other services are taken care of.
As you prepare for the holiday season, consider creating, reviewing, or updating your estate plan before the end of the year. Our team of attorneys has a proven track record in this area of law. Call our office to create a new estate plan or to make updates to your existing documents.