Five Tips for Reviewing your Estate Plan in the New Year!

Welcome to 2017! The beginning of the year is a great time to plan for yourself.  If you have already done some estate planning, it is time to review your documents.  Here are some tips:

1.     Did you have any big changes last year? Did you get married or divorced, have a kid, did your assets or income change, or was there a death in your family?  Your documents need to reflect any of these changes.

2.    Review your Powers-of-Attorney.  
•    Are your POAs durable? (That means that your agent can use the document even if you are incompetent.)
•    Does your health care or medical POA provide HIPPA releases? 
•    Does your legal/financial POA provide for unrestricted gifting power? (Why would you want this? Read more here.)
•    Are the named individuals still the appropriate people to make decisions for you if you can’t? 

3.    Review Your Will
•    Are your executors (also called personal representatives) still the appropriate persons to serve?
•    What about guardians for your minor or disabled children?
•    Does your will contain instructions if your spouse, children, or other beneficiaries should become disabled? 
•    Do you have any specific gifts that need to be added? 

4.    Review Beneficiary Designation Forms
•    Ask your financial institution for the most current version of your designation form.  You would be surprised how often these are forgotten. 
•    Ask them if you can add a per stirpes designation, split the proceeds according to different percentage, or designate a trust. 

5.    Put all your important things together!  Place all your important documents in a folder together and put them in a safe place.  In addition to your legal documents, place bank account and passwords in the folder for your loved ones to find easily if necessary.  If you are putting your documents in a bank’s lock box, make sure your loved ones know that they are there. Make copies of all your document - you can even scan them into your computer for easy reference.