Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Estate Plan Makeovers

This time of year can be full of family, food, and good fortune; it can sometimes be full of good and bad change too. I am often busy this time of year because people are home for the Holidays and thinking about their financial and family health—but sometimes I am busy because of illness and tragedy. I thought this post might be a good “end of the year” checklist of things to think about and when to update your estate plans:
  • Incapacity. Unfortunately this is a time of accidents (think Clark Griswold), or unexpected illness, and every single person should have documents in place to act in the event of incapacity. Of the emergency proceedings I have handled in court, 2/3 of them have been in the months of December and January. Business owners should especially have a plan in place should they become unexpectedly incapacitated. This is one that is not impacted by age or net worth; you should have a financial and health care agent in place in case you cannot make your own decisions temporarily or permanently.
  • Guardians for minor children. Spending millions of hours with your children after eating pounds of sugary treats should make you consider whether the guardians you have chosen (or the ones you SHOULD choose) are the right choices. Can your brother really handle your kids? Does the geographic location of those guardians make sense still? Are your kids old enough that you can remove that section?
  • Significant change in financial circumstances. Did you win the lottery this past year? Or did you spend your entire life savings on presents for the holidays? Many estate plans include specific dollar amount gifts to specific people; do you still have assets that cover those gifts? Are you in a financial position to add some specific gifts to family members?
  • Charitable gifts. This time of year reminds us to be generous to the charitable organizations around us as well. Did you include organizations in a prior plan with which you are no longer active? Did you want to add some new charitable gifts to your plan?
This is not an exhaustive list, but the Holidays and end of the year are a good time to review our estate plans and think through the family and personal decisions that go with them. Happy Holidays!

No comments :

Post a Comment