Estate Planning Tips for the New Year

Summary: Want to work on your estate planning this year? Siedentopf Law has some tips to get you started, including: reviewing any existing estate planning documents (will, trust, power of attorney, advance directive for health care), updating your beneficiary designations, reviewing your life insurance policy, writing letters of instruction, and saving online account information.

It’s the New Year! Time to make personal resolutions and set goals for 2018. As you work through and prioritize your To Do list, Siedentopf Law has advice on some of the estate planning items you can tackle this year.

Reviewing Your Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, and Advance Directive for Health Care: An estate plan is a collection of living documents – your will and/or trust, power of attorney, and medical advance directives. As changes happen within your family or business structures, your estate plans should change as well. It is a good idea to review these documents every few years, especially after a significant life event such as marriage, birth, divorce, death, or inheritance. You want to make sure your current plans reflect your financial goals and personal wishes.

Updating Your Beneficiary Designations: A beneficiary designation provides a mechanism for the transfer of assets. They can often be found on insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts. The person creating the account or policy can identify a beneficiary, and after he or she passes away, the account assets will be paid directly to the named beneficiary. Just as it is important to make sure your will, trust, power of attorney, and advance directive are current – your beneficiary designations should be regularly reviewed as well. Updating them based on your current status means that your wishes will be honored as you intended. For more on beneficiary designations, read our blog “The Important of Updating Your Beneficiary Designations.”

Reviewing Your Life Insurance Policy: Life insurance policies help ensure that your loved ones will be taken care of in case of unforeseen injuries or death. Similar to the other estate planning documents and beneficiary designations, it is a good idea to review your existing insurance coverage after significant life events (ex: marriage, divorce, children, or deaths in the family). You want to make sure that your loved ones have appropriate coverage which changes as your family and other assets change.

Writing Letters of Instruction To Your Heirs and Beneficiaries: In addition to developing an estate plan and making sure the documents are current, it is also important to let your family know about your wishes. A Letter of Instruction can provide your heirs and beneficiaries with information about the location and transfer of your valuables. Or, it can provide them with information that can be critical in the event of an emergency (ex: medication information, location of records, contact information for professional advisors, etc.). Once you have drafted this letter, keep it in a safe place, and make sure your family and/or your executor know where to locate it.

Saving and Sharing Your Online Passwords:  With so many email accounts, social media platforms, online file storage, banking and shopping – and on and on – it is nearly impossible to remember all of your account identification and passwords. Some people use an app to store all of that information. Others write them down and keep the document in a safe place. Either way, family members should know how to access this information, in case of an emergency. In addition to giving them the accounts and passwords, you can also consider including language in your will that gives your executor “all of the rights, powers and privileges that I have with respect to my digital assets.”

These are just a few of the estate planning items you can work on in 2018. For more information, or to set up an estate planning consultation, visit the Siedentopf Law website at EstateLawAtlanta.com or call us today at (404) 736 – 6066.

© Sarah Siedentopf and Siedentopf Law, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Siedentopf Law and EstateLawAtlanta.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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