The New Year is here. If you are like most folks you have had year which included some changes. You may have moved, changed jobs, changed your marital status, had kids and like most of us, made no changes or conducted a serious review of your estate plan.
If you have moved and have not notified government agencies and others you do business with, you cannot rely on the post office to forward important mail to you. Today, most address changes can be handled on-line, though the list varies by state. The important entities that need your new address and contact information include:
Your child’s school
Department of Motor Vehicles
Auto Insurance company
Life Insurance company
Banks and Brokerages
State and Federal taxing authorities
Credit card companies
Stores where you have a store credit card
Life changes are more challenging. If you have changed your marital status or had kids during the past year, have you changed beneficiaries on your insurance policies. Your new spouse may not be too happy to learn that the in-laws are the beneficiaries of your life insurance policy at work. Or, your significant other may think your death well-deserved when it is revealed that the wrong person will get the life insurance payout. These may appear obvious and almost silly to remind folks about, but, with our busy lives and the daily stresses we all face, the effect hits many of us. So, look at the first week of the New Year to add or delete insurance beneficiaries and don’t forget any new children.
Also, as the New Year greets you, it is a good time to schedule an appointment with your estate attorney. Life changes, including great ones like higher income, require that you plan your estate carefully. If you own a family business who will run it and who will own it if you are out of the picture? Succession planning is an important part of estate. Your spouse should be part of the process, many couples do their estate planning together. Additionally, if you own a family business and have children you may want to discuss with them what your plans are, leaving your business to a child who does not want it at the expense of one who does can create major
disharmony among your heirs after you are gone. Talking with loved ones and explaining your reasoning can help to alleviate discord after you are gone.Additionally, talk with your estate attorney about which vehicle is best for your circumstances, a simple will or a living trust. Many people have taken the living trust route as it avoids probate and can help to reduce or eliminate any taxes. Finally, though it is hoped that your New Year will keep you in good health, just as a precaution draw up an advanced medical directive and name a trusted person to be your representative if you become incapacitated due to health.
It seems like a lot of work, but taking care of legal needs now will save you a world of worry in the long-run. Plus, peace of mind is priceless.
Every case presents unique facts and no outcome can be guaranteed by an attorney. Give my office a call to discuss your particular needs or concerns.