You spend your whole life working hard to accumulate wealth, but few people spend much time planning for what will happen to it after they pass away, especially if children are in the picture. A recent Consumer Reports survey reveals that 86% of people have not reviewed or updated their estate plan documents in the past five years.
Many life-changing events can happen in five years – your life, the law, and your assets will change — and your estate plan needs to reflect the changes in your life or those of your beneficiaries. The following is a list of areas that need to be reviewed at least once a year with the help of a Family Business Lawyer:
Your will and trust(s). These legal documents determine who gets your assets and who will take care of making sure that it happens the way you want. People marry, divorce and fall out with family members all the time. Children are born and sometimes, tragically, die. Property is bought and sold. In other words, life changes and so should your will and trust, to reflect the changes in your life.
Title to your assets. How your assets are titled is arguably the most important aspect of your estate planning. If your assets are not titled correctly (and stay that way), your estate plan won’t work and the documents prepared by your lawyer are not worth the paper they’re written on. How your assets are titled should be reviewed every year.
Your health care directive. An Advance Health Care Directive says who will serve as your agent in case you are unable to make your own health care decisions. Is the person you originally named still willing and able to serve? A back-up person should be named in case for some reason your first choice is not able to serve when needed.
Your guardian nominations. You want to be sure your children will be raised by the right people. As your kids grow, the people you initially named to raise them may not continue to make sense. And, you absolutely need to have named guardians for the immediate term, so your kids are never taken into protective custody by strangers, and those folks can change frequently as the people in your kids’ lives will likely change regularly.
Your financial power of attorney. This person will handle your finances in case you are unable to do so. The power of attorney should name at least one alternative person who can act if your first choice is unable or unwilling.
If you would like to create or update your estate plan, call our office today to schedule time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article.