(I originally posted this almost ten years ago, but it still holds true today.)
We all make New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight, exercising, learning a new language . . . . Few of us think of our estate plan, but we should.
Here are 8 things you can do to get your estate plan on track:
1. Will or Trust. Make sure you have an up do date Will or Trust that reflects and addresses your own unique goals, concerns and needs;
2. Titles to Assets and Beneficiary Designations. Check your asset ownership and beneficiary designations for bank accounts, investment accounts, life insurance, retirement accounts and other assets to ensure they are coordinated with your Will or Trust provisions;
3. Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney. Make sure you have a comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney which names an agent to act on your behalf concerning your assets if you become incapacitated;
4. Healthcare Power of Attorney. Even if you do not currently have a medical condition, make sure you have in place a current Healthcare Power of Attorney which names an agent to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated;
5. Living Will. Consider having in place an advance directive, called a Living Will, which clearly states your wishes–in the event you are in a hospital and your doctor determines that you are terminally ill with only a short period of time to live–that you do not want to have procedures administered that serve only to prolong the dying process;
6. Touch Base with Your Fiduciaries. Take time to talk to your Trustees, Personal Representatives, Agents under Powers of Attorney, and Guardians named in your estate planning documents to ensure they agree to serve and are aware of your wishes;
7. Insurance. Review all of your policies, such as life, medical and disability insurance, to see if you have adequate coverage, and consider increasing the liability limits on your auto insurance and purchasing umbrella liability insurance; and
8. Letter of Instruction. Prepare a Letter of Instruction with details to help family and your estate agents or representatives manage your affairs. It should contain such information as names and contact information of family members and your professional advisors, location of important papers, information regarding accounts, passwords and PIN numbers, and much more. Keep it in a safe place, but accessible to trusted family and representatives.
Get started today . . . and sleep better tonight.