The holidays are a popular time to make sure you have either created or updated your estate plan, especially if you are traveling and if you want to relax and know that you have everything in place in the case of an accident or emergency. Book your tickets, but call your attorney before you pack that suitcase!
It is important that your estate planning documents reflect your current life situation and support your long-term goals; here are four simple things you can do now to ensure you are in a better position to protect your family.
Everyone should at least have a basic Will. If you have children, then make sure it includes a guardianship clause. This is an easy, inexpensive way to create peace of mind for you and your family, and to ensure that you – not the state – decide who would raise your children in the event of your absence.
2. Revocable Living Trust.
Consider creating a trust to better protect your property and your beneficiaries by providing for a more efficient, less expensive, and less public distribution or maintenance of your assets. A trust allows you to pass assets outside of a will and outside of probate, while you continue to use and access the assets during your lifetime. Additionally, you will have more control over how the assets are managed and distributed (now and later).
3. Living Will; Health Care Power of Attorney.
These documents allow you to set forth your wishes for medical treatment should you become incapacitated. Additionally, you can select the individuals who could legally make decisions on your behalf. If you have already prepared a Living Will and/or named a Health Care representative in the past, now is a good time to make sure the documents are up to date, and that the person you have chosen is available and willing to play this important role.
4. Beneficiary designations.
Review your life insurance policies, 401(k) plans, and all other retirement accounts and IRAs to ensure you have the proper beneficiary designations in place. This is especially important if you have ever switched jobs, gone through a divorce, or if an important person in your life has passed, because the person you designated in prior years may not be the person you would designate today.
For assistance with any legal matters related to your business or estate planning, contact Fournier Legal Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.670.3535 now for a free consultation and planning session.
Joe received his law degree from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill School of Law and his Accounting degree from the University of Rhode Island. He is admitted to practice law in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and he is a CPA. He is an Adjunct Professor and lecturer at the University level and has been a frequent speaker on business planning and legal matters.
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