For many of us, April is a very busy month. Not only are we preparing our homes for Passover, we are also preparing our financials for taxes. It can be a tremendous amount of work. But now that the tax and holiday season is behind us and the stress of trying to accomplish our goals timely has subsided, we can savor the enjoyable memories we had with family and friends.
One of the beneficial outcomes of this time of year is that you’re forced to get organized. Although you may not have had enough time to do the spring cleaning you were hoping to this year, at the very least your kitchen has been thoroughly cleaned and your finances are more orderly – which was necessary for your accountant.
With this already done, conducting an assessment of your own personal medical and financial well-being is a natural progression. You want to ensure you are protected in the event of an unexpected illness, disability, lawsuit, or loss of a loved one. These situations can occur without warning, and you need to be prepared.
For those of you who have comprehensive estate plans that include powers of attorney, medical directives, wills, and trusts (which have been properly funded), you can feel secure knowing you’ve prepared for the future and will make life easier for your family after you’re gone or if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Although you have taken the necessary steps to prepare, to ensure your estate plan will work when your family needs it, your plan should be reviewed at least every three years. Considering circumstances in life are always changing, there are some situations that can have a significant impact on your estate plan and affect your estate-planning goals and objectives. With this in mind, tax time provides a wonderful opportunity for you to review your planning since your most important documents have already been located and organized.
Below is a check-list to determine whether your planning needs to be reviewed and/or updated.
Do you have a will that has been updated within the past three years?
Do you have a living trust that has been properly funded with assets properly re-titled to your trust?
Will your executor, trustee, medical, and financial agents be ready, willing, and able to act on your behalf when called upon?
Have your beneficiary designations on your bank accounts and insurance policies been checked within the past three years?
Does your plan reflect the purchase or sale of real property?
Will your plan be subjected to unnecessary court costs and delays due to probate?
Does your plan protect your spouse and grown children from future divorce, lawsuits, taxes, and predators?
Does your plan protect your children if your spouse remarries?
Have you changed jobs or retired?
Does your plan include a former spouse as a beneficiary or authority?
Does your plan include a health care proxy signed within the past three years?
Does your plan include a durable power of attorney signed within the past three years?
If you have experienced any of the above in the past three years or more, taking the time to accommodate and provide for those changes now will save a significant amount of difficulty later.
Scheduling your family estate-planning session can help you clarify what needs to be done to ensure your wishes are honored and goals are maintained for years to come.