A well-crafted, up-to-date estate plan will help to protect you and your family. Yet, Forbes reports that nearly half of adults over the age of 55 do not even have a will—let alone a comprehensive estate plan. 55 is not a magic age, as there are many families that start much younger and need estate planning. Making sure that you have an estate plan for the future that effectively protects you and your loved ones is important. With a few relatively simple steps, you can get the peace and security that you need. Here, is an estate planning checklist to help get you started.
Your Estate Planning Checklist for the Fall:
1. Draft or Review your Last Will and Testament and/or Trust
The first step on your fall estate planning checklist is to review your will. If you do not have a Will, it is time to draft a Will. Every adult can benefit from a clear, professionally-drafted Will. You should review your Will on a regular basis. You may also want to set up an alternative estate planning vehicle, such as a living trust. Living trusts (and other types of trusts) are an effective estate planning tool for many families, but may not be necessary in all cases. If you have any questions about whether or not a trust is the right option for your family, an experienced estate planning attorney can help.
2. Make Sure Your Beneficiary Designations are Up to Date
It is imperative that you update your beneficiary designations on a regular basis. Properly assigned beneficiary designations allow for the smooth transferring of assets/property. Do you know who the beneficiaries are on your 401(k) or IRA account? If not, check to make sure. In too many cases, people forget to update their beneficiaries to account for changing circumstances.
3. Review your Texas specific Power of Attorney (POA) and Health Care Documents
Estate planning is about more than just deciding who gets what. Your estate plan should protect you in the event that you are traveling, severely injured, fall ill, or otherwise become incapacitated. Check to confirm that your plan provides adequate protection. Texas has very specific power of attorney or other estate planning documents, you may want:
A statutory durable power of attorney;
A special power of attorney;
A health care power of attorney with a HIPAA Release.
A declaration of guardian
A directive to physicians and family
A disposition of remains document
4. Check Your Life Insurance Coverage
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy—especially when it is unexpected. Life insurance is a valuable resource. It will provide your family members with much needed financial support in their time of need. If you have dependents, you can benefit from the protection provided by life insurance. Make sure you review your coverage to ensure it meets your family’s needs.
If you’d like to learn more about naming guardians and estate planning, call an experienced estate planning attorney to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.