It’s hard to imagine, but people who spend a lifetime accumulating wealth often spend little or no time planning for what will happen to that wealth after they are gone. It is especially shocking when children are in the picture. A recent Consumer Reports survey reveals that 86% of people have not reviewed or updated their estate documents in the past five years.
A lot happens in five years – your life, the law, and your assets will undoubtedly change. Your estate plan needs to reflect the changes in your life and the lives of your loved ones. Here’s what should be evaluated annually with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer:
Title to your assets. The most important part of your estate planning isn’t always the documents your lawyer prepared (though they are important), it’s how your assets are titled. If your assets are not titled right (and stay that way), your estate plan won’t work the way you intend and those documents aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. This must be reviewed regularly.
Your will and trust(s). These estate planning documents direct who gets your assets and who will be responsible for making sure that it all happens the way you want. Life happens; people marry, divorce, and fall out with family members all the time. Children are born and sometimes, tragically, die. Property is bought and sold. When things change your will and trust should change, too, to reflect the changes in your life.
Your health care directive. Your health care directive names the person who you want to serve as your health care agent in case you are unable to make those decisions yourself. Is the person you originally selected still willing and able to serve? If for some reason they were not able to serve when needed, have you named a back-up?
Your durable power of attorney. Your attorney in fact is the person who will handle your finances in case you are unable to do so, and you should select a back-up person for this role as well. If you are over the age of 65 and have multiple bank and brokerage accounts, it may be useful to consolidate those accounts to make managing your finances easier.
Your guardian nominations. As your children grow, the people you selected to raise them may not continue to be the best choice. And, you absolutely need to have named guardians for the immediate term, so that your kids are never taken into protective custody by the authorities because something has happened to you and they are without direction. Your immediate guardian selections can change frequently as the people in your kids’ lives will likely change regularly.
If you would like to create or update your estate plan, call our office at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form today to schedule time for us to sit down and talk.
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