The month of January is often met with clients eager to complete their New Year’s resolutions to act more adult. Besides new exercise regimes and attempts at savings accounts, from a legal perspective, the new year is the perfect impetus for tackling life’s perennial to-do list. From an estate planning perspective, here is a punch list that every adult should look to achieve in the new year.
Write a Last Will and Testament: Contact a local attorney and discuss the disposition of your assets and the guardianship of your children in the event you die. A last will and testament is necessary for anyone over the age of 18. In the event you die, without a last will and testament, your state laws dictate who receives your assets and a judge determines who gets custody of your children. Avoid potential conflicts and state your direction under a last will and testament, properly executed under the guidance of an attorney in your jurisdiction. Make a Power of Attorney: This document authorizes an agent to stand in your place regarding financial matters in the event you are unable to do act for yourself. A Power of Attorney can include the power to bank, file taxes, and even sell and purchase real estate on behalf of another individual. Execute a Health Care Proxy: If you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, your health care agent will act in your stead. It is important to make your wishes known to your appointed agent, including your preferences for care in the event you suffer from a terminal illness with no chance of survival. Purchase a life insurance policy: In the event you pass away, a life insurance policy can provide funds to help your family financially survive. There are different types of life insurance products to fit your familial and investing needs. Based on your current income, assets, and lifestyle, an agent will recommend the proper amount of insurance. Check beneficiary designation forms: Ask your employer to produce copies of your beneficiary designation forms for any retirement or insurance accounts. Make certain that a proper designee (and a successor designee) is listed. Also take the opportunity to check your bank accounts to inquire whether you have any joint owners or named beneficiaries on your accounts. Life insurance policies and retirement accounts, accounts with named beneficiaries or joint owners, will not be distributed pursuant to the terms of a last will and testament. Consider long-term care and disability insurance: Inquire as to policies that could be beneficial to you and your family during your lifetime.
In the event of illness or catastrophe, consider purchasing a policy to supplement income or pay a benefit toward home or nursing care. Consult with a financial advisor: In the event you are trying to save or planning for a family, it can be beneficial to review your finances and budgeting with a financial planner. She may work together with your attorney to make certain you have a solid and comprehensive estate plan. Talk to your parents and grandparents about their estate plans: There comes a time when the child and parent switch roles. Inquire with the older generations as to their estate plans and whether they have executed necessary documents to make their aging and eventual death easier to handle. Make certain your parents tell someone where their important documents and instructions are located. Consider burial options: You need not dwell on the disposition of your remains upon your passing, however, it is a discussion you should have with your family and friends. If cost is concerning you may pre-pay for a funeral or purchase a burial plot. For the older generation, get a sense of their wishes and whether family plots exist. Inventory your assets: Take a survey of what you own, including money accounts, jewelry, art, stocks, and business assets. If there are questions as to title of certain items, try to fix those ownership issues while you are living and not leave them for your heirs to address. Similarly if you have unfinished business, whether it pertains to a divorce settlement or other lawsuit, it would behoove you to resolve any outstanding issues while you have the ability to do so yourself.
Cori A. Robinson is a solo practitioner having founded Cori A. Robinson PLLC, a New York and New Jersey law firm, in 2017. For more than a decade Cori has focused her law practice on trusts and estates and elder law including estate and Medicaid planning, probate and administration, estate litigation, and guardianships.
This article provided by NewsEdge.