How many of you review your estate plan at the end of each year? While an annual review is recommended, very few of us actually do that. Now, with COVID-19 on our minds, and worst case scenarios that could result from the disease, it might be a good time to review your planning documents to ensure that they are up to date, particularly if you haven’t looked at them in quite a while.
Do you need to make revisions?
A wide array of life changes can trigger the need to revise an estate plan. In 2020, those include the illness, disability or death of you, your spouse or another family member. On a happier note, the birth or adoption of a child, grandchild or great-grandchild – or a child or grandchild entering adulthood – may necessitate changes.
If you married, divorced or remarried, or sold or purchased a principal or second home, you might need to revise your estate plan. Other oft-cited examples include your or your spouse’s retirement, receipt of a large gift or inheritance, or any sizable changes in the value of assets. It’s also important to review your estate plan when there have been changes in federal or state income tax or estate tax laws.
Have you set up the proper powers of attorney?
As part of your estate plan review, closely examine your will, powers of attorney and health care directives. If you have minor children, your will should designate a guardian to care for them should you die prematurely, as well as make certain other provisions, such as creating trusts to benefit your children until they reach the age of majority, or perhaps even longer.
A durable power of attorney authorizes someone to handle your financial affairs if you’re disabled or otherwise unable to act. Likewise, a medical durable power of attorney authorizes someone to handle your medical decision making if you’re disabled or unable to act. The powers of attorney expire upon your death.
Typically, these powers of attorney are coordinated with a living will and other health care directives. A living will spells out your wishes concerning life-sustaining measures in the event of a terminal illness, defining what measures should be used, withheld or withdrawn. Changes in your family or your personal circumstances might cause you to want to change beneficiaries, guardians or power-of-attorney agents you’ve previously named.
Enjoy peace of mind
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many people’s thoughts have turned to the importance of family and economic security. Updating and revising your estate plan today can provide peace of mind. In partnerships with your attorney, we can help you determine whether any revisions are needed.