We’re back with another tip to help you wrap up 2017! Miss the first two items on our year-end planning checklist? Get up-to-speed here.
The beginning of a new year sparks feelings of promise, opportunity and optimism. Resolutions are made, goals are set and plans for the coming months start to take shape.
Contemplating your own mortality doesn’t necessarily invoke the same type of feelings…right? We didn’t think so.
As unpleasant as it may be, revisiting your estate plan should be high on the list of items to cross off your to-do list before the end of the year — especially if you’ve experienced a major life event, like marriage, divorce or the birth of a child.
In these situations, you should update all of your estate planning documents and review the current beneficiaries of your will and life insurance policies. In fact, you may want to consider having all of your policies reviewed to ensure the terms and coverage can still support your current goals and circumstances.
Don’t have estate planning documents in place? Resolve to tackle these simple tasks, as you head into next year:
1. Prepare a Will
Regardless of their age or stage in life, everyone can benefit from having a will in place. A will can help you formally name a guardian for your minor children in the event that you or your spouse passes away or becomes incapacitated. Wills can also protect any meaningful or valuable personal items you may have on-hand, such as jewelry, a collection of artwork or family heirlooms.
Consider having these items appraised every few years and engage in open, honest discussion with your family ahead of time to ensure everyone is onboard with the plan. In some cases, transferring assets to your loved ones during your lifetime might be financially advantageous and can also prevent future confusion or conflicts.
2. Complete Powers of Attorney and Other Control Delegations
Beyond a will, what other basic estate planning documents should you have in place?
Financial Power of Attorney: This document names another person to make financial decisions, manage bank accounts and pay your bills on your behalf, if you become unable to do so.
Healthcare Power of Attorney: This document names another person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to do so for yourself. These may include treatment decisions, admittance to nursing homes and organ donation.
Living Will: This document specifies your wishes for end-of-life care, or delegates responsibilities for making those decisions if you are unable to do so.
Once you have these documents in place, you should set a reminder on your calendar to review them every year to ensure they consistently reflect your situation and needs.
3. Consider Life Insurance or Reconsider Your Coverage Needs
Like other aspects of your financial and estate plan, your life insurance needs are unique. The right type of coverage can vary, depending on the cost and expected length of the policy, among other factors. Here’s a quick guide to the most common types of life insurance available today, and here’s a list of factors that may warrant a reassessment of your coverage.
4. Seek Insight from the Experts
It’s crucial to enlist a qualified, experienced team of professional advisors — such as an attorney, a financial advisor and a certified public accountant (CPA) — for assistance when navigating estate planning issues. Make sure that these individuals are well-informed about your family goals and needs, and understand how your estate planning documents can help fulfill them. Meet with your team regularly to ensure that your estate plan is still current with tax laws, family changes and other financial or life circumstances.
Ready to readdress your estate planning needs for next year? Contact our advisory team.