“Someday is not a day of the week.” – Janet Dailey
It is natural to procrastinate on tasks that don’t have a specific due date, pushing them down your “to do” list again and again. And it is natural to procrastinate on tasks that involve talking about uncomfortable subjects such as money or the death of a loved one.
That is why Congress instituted National Estate Planning Awareness week back in 2008 – to remind Americans that estate planning is part of financial well-being. Estate planning is more than creating wills and signing power of attorney documents that designate a decision-making representative should you become ill or incapacitated (although these are must-haves).
It can also help:
- Maintain financial security during your lifetime and prepare for retirement.
- Transfer your property and assets in the most private and financially-efficient way possible.
- Prepare your heirs for wealth management responsibilities.
- Pass your legacy and values to the next generation.
- Plan for Medicaid needs within your family.
- Plan for family members with special needs.
Since life is constantly changing, estate planning should not be a once-in-a-lifetime activity. If it has been five or more years since you completed your plan, it may be time to execute new power of attorney documents along with any other forms related to your health care and finances, as older documents are less likely to be honored.
Check to see if updates to your plan are needed due to family events (like marriages, births, divorces or deaths), to stay current with recent tax law changes or to prepare for potential tax law changes. If you haven’t taken advantage of the temporary increase in the estate, gift and generation-skipping tax exemptions, this is a good time to start thinking about how you will utilize those to your benefit before they disappear.
This week is also a great time to check your beneficiary designations on assets such as retirement accounts, bank accounts and insurance policies. These too may need updating due to marriages, births, divorces or deaths.
If you don’t have an estate plan yet, call us to get started. If your estate plan is older than five years, contact your attorney to see what changes might be necessary.