Congress instituted National Estate Planning Awareness week in 2008 to help Americans understand estate planning and its role in a person’s financial well-being. It’s a great reminder to organize, review and update your plans.
Estate planning is important for everyone over the age of 18. It allows you to prepare for the unexpected, and your thoughtful preparation will make a very difficult time for your family a bit easier and less expensive.
If you already have a written estate plan:
- Make sure all of your planning documents are together in a secure but accessible place.
- Give a copy of the appropriate planning documents to those who will serve as your personal representative, patient advocate and financial power of attorney.
- Look through your planning documents to see if updates to your plan and your beneficiaries are needed due to family events (like marriages, births, divorces or deaths).
- Check your beneficiary designations on assets that are not transferred by your will, such as retirement accounts, bank accounts and life insurance policies. These beneficiary names may need updating due to marriages, births, divorces or deaths in the family.
- If you have significant assets, talk to your estate planner about taking advantage of the temporary increase in the estate, gift and generation-skipping tax exemptions. This is a good time to think about how you will utilize those before the exemption amounts decrease as expected in 2026.
- If your plan is more than five years old, check with your estate planner to determine if any changes are needed to stay current with, or prepare for, tax law changes.
If you have not started estate planning yet, now is the time! Contact a member of Warner’s Trusts and Estates Practice Group to get started. We will help you:
- Create power of attorney documents that designate your health and financial decision-making representatives who will assist in your decision making should you become ill or incapacitated.
- Create a will that lets you specify who will serve as guardian for any minor children, pay your final bills and distribute your property, close your financial and social media accounts, become the caregiver for your pet, inherit your property, etc.
- Create a trust if you have significant assets, young beneficiaries or an unusual family situation. Proper planning is especially important for married parents with children from previous relationships to avoid disinheriting these children.
Estate plans are not one-size-fits-all, so contact your Warner estate planning attorney to discuss creating or updating your own estate plan that is tailored to you and your family’s needs.