Resolutions abound as the New Year quickly approaches. Each year we make a pact with ourselves to make lifestyle changes for the better. Whether it is to exercise more, skip the daily fast-food lunch breaks, or give up bad reality television, the intentions are always good, though often we do not follow through. How many times have we seen the new year rush at the local gym, but notice the crowds slowly dwindle come the beginning of February?
One resolution that you should make every effort to keep is to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney and develop or update your plan. The New Year is the perfect time to consider your assets, beneficiaries, retirement goals, and your health. And don’t be fooled, estate planning is not just for Grandma and Grandpa. All adults age 18 and older should be thinking about their health care wishes and how to dispose of their assets. No financial sum is too small to consider, and no one is invincible against a tragic accident. Consider the following:
- Do you have minor children?
- Do you have any children or grandchildren with special needs?
- Are your insurance beneficiaries up to date?
- Have you thought about who will receive your precious wedding china, or your antique cuckoo clock after you are deceased? Often the sentimental value placed on personal items can far outweigh financial gain, and arguments over such matters can cause rifts between family members. Now is the time to determine where these treasures will end up.
- Do you have an existing will or trust but have recently married? Divorced? Had a child?
- Have you thought about life-saving measures that you would want performed in the event of serious illness or accident? Have you shared your wishes with family members?
- Have you thought about whom you would want to make health care decisions for you if you were to become incapacitated?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, then make your 2010 New Year’s resolution one that will give you peace of mind. Many options are available depending on the size of your estate and your desired wishes, but at the very least, consider a simple will, sign a durable power of attorney and appoint a health care proxy. Have a safe and happy holiday!