The holiday season can be both a stressful and rewarding time. Life comes at you very quickly, especially during this season. Regardless of the season, it is vitally important that you keep in mind your plans for the future, especially in regards to your estate plan.
To make this easier for you, Hatley Law Group A P.C. has outlined the Twelve Days of Estate Planning, or twelve different topics that you can think about during this holiday season, derived from the Forbes article 12 Estate Planning Questions that Might Make You Squirm.
For example, we often hear the excuse - I'm married therefore I don't need an estate plan. Day One's topic explains why yes, you do!
Take these questions one day at a time this holiday season.
Day One: Think—who will raise your children if both parents would die?
For obvious reasons, this question is a difficult one for many families to ask. However, it is also one of the most crucial. In an estate plan, it is important to have a plan in place that will cover your family under any circumstance, regardless of how unlikely any given occurrence may be.
Day Two: Create a plan which takes into consideration what may happen if you all die in a common disaster.
Again, this is a difficult topic and may seem unnecessary to discuss due to its unlikely nature. Even so, it is important to have a plan in place for any and all circumstances
Day Three: Review your estate plan and ask: Are there any other descendants you haven’t yet mentioned?
It is vitally important to include any and all descendants in an estate plan. Oftentimes, clients forget to include certain descendants, and these descendants can, and do, later pop up at occasions such as your funeral, and ask if they are getting anything from your estate.
Day Four: Remember, have you disclosed all important relationships in your life with your attorney?
When meeting with an estate planning attorney, the more detail you can give them on your relationships, the better. Some relationships may have legal obligations that you are unaware of. With the proper information about all of the relationships in your life, your estate planning attorney will be able to properly guide you into designing the correct estate plan that will satisfy all the needs for the people in your life.
Day Five: Recall—do you have any genetic material on ice?
Advances in scientific technology can muddy the waters of estate planning at times. Any genetic material that is stored away could potentially become a beneficiary someday, so if you have this material frozen, consider creating a plan that will include these potential future beneficiaries.
Day 6: The season for gift giving is upon us—have you ever made a large gift to someone?
When families or friends go through hard times, we often try to chip in and help them get through it, sometimes through a large gift or a sum of money. Gifts in excess of $14,000 per person need to be reported annually on a federal gift tax return. Once again, the more information you can give to your lawyer, the better.
Day 7: Keep in mind your pets and what you want for their future.
For many families, a pet can be an additional family member. Just like you would do for your children, you want to make sure that someone you trust will be put in charge of your pets in the event of your passing.
Day 8: Start thinking about your wishes. What do you want for your last days?
It is difficult for many people to think about what they want for themselves in their last days, such as if they would want the plug pulled if they are in a vegetative state. Creating an estate plan will also create a healthcare directive for you, which will lay out for your family what it is that you want when you are on your deathbed. That way, no one will have to guess what your wishes are.
Day 9: Make a list of all of your usernames, passwords, and security questions.
In this day and age, digital assets can be just as important as physical assets. It is not uncommon for individuals to have their bank statements sent only to their email, or to have photos only accessible through your computer. Working with your estate planning attorney, you can figure out which of your assets need to be preserved and which do not.
Day 10: Review your pre-nup, post-nup, or community property agreement.
Though these documents may be documents of the past, they could come back to haunt you after your death. Be sure you are disclosing all information in these documents with your estate planning attorney.
Day 11: Keep track of your health.
How your estate plan is written could vary depending on whether you have had any serious or chronic health issues that could affect your life expectancy. Once again, it is always important to be honest with your estate planning attorney.
Day 12: Contact your lawyer!
After you have completed all of the tasks listed above, contact your lawyer to make sure that your estate plan is up to date and that you have all of your needs covered.
The best estate plan is one that is up to date with your current situation. Plan to go into the New Year with peace of mind and a secured estate plan for your future. At Hatley Law Group we are ready to help you with these decisions. Make a New Year's Resolution today to give both yourself and loved ones peace of mind.