Hopefully you have considered the benefits of doing some basic estate planning.
As noted in prior blogs, it is essential for anyone with children and anyone who has any assets to distribute, regardless of age or income level, to have basic estate planning documents in place.
At a minimum we recommend that you have at least the following documents in place: a basic will, durable and health care powers of attorney, and in most cases, a revocable trust.
However, even if you have these documents in place, it is important to periodically review and assess the content in light of your current life situation and long-term goals. Specifically:
1. Does your basic will include a guardianship clause?
You want to make sure that if you have minor children, it is clear in your will who will be responsible for their financial care and upbringing. You, not the state, and not the legal system, should be making this decision.
2. Does your basic will contain a divorce clause?
If you get divorced, you want to make sure that your ex-spouse’s family members are not full beneficiaries or fiduciaries. Please make sure that you have at least considered this provision. You may not care, and you may not need to alter anything, but you want to make this decision now, not when you are in the throes of a divorce proceeding!
3. Have you considered using a revocable trust?
Revocable trusts are not necessary in every situation, but they can be immensely helpful. A trust helps you avoid a public and potentially expensive probate process, it alleviates much potential stress and burden from your heirs (who will already be upset due to your passing), and provides for a much more efficient administration of your assets, especially if you have any assets out of state.
4. Have you considered elder care, including “Medicaid planning” strategies?
This is particularly important if you have older parents, or if you are in a situation where you could require long-term care soon. You want to make sure your family and loved ones, not a nursing home, receive the lion’s share of your estate. Proper estate planning will help you achieve this goal.