It’s that time of year again. Time to make your New Year’s resolutions. Instead of resolving the same old things like losing weight or exercising more, however, why not target your resolutions to estate planning this year? Here are six ideas to get you started.
1. Resolve to Create an Estate Plan if You Haven’t Already Done So
Unfortunately, estate planning is something that most people put off — and off — and off until sometimes it’s too late to do it. Don’t let this happen to you. Begin by making lists of the following:
- Family members and others to whom you want to make bequests
- Assets and their locations
- Life insurance policies and their beneficiaries
- Medical preferences in the event of your injury, illness or other incapacity
- Estate planning goals and objectives
2. Resolve to Organize Your Digital Information
You likely conduct a lot of your business online. Consequently, you probably have numerous usernames, passwords, email addresses and other identifying information that lets you access your online accounts. While it’s vital to protect this sensitive personal information, it’s also vital that at least one or two of your family members have access to your online information. After all, they’ll need to access your accounts if something unexpected happens to you.
Make a list of all your online accounts and the information necessary to access each one. Then store this list in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box at the bank where you and one of your loved ones have a joint account.
3. Resolve to Review and Update Your Beneficiary Designations
Many of your assets, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc., have beneficiary designations. When was the last time you looked at them? They may need to be updated if you married, divorced or welcomed a new child into your home after making the existing designations.
4. Resolve to Discuss Your Estate Plan With Your Loved Ones
Your estate plan not only benefits you but also your loved ones. Don’t leave them in the dark about what you’re thinking of doing. Give them a chance to ask questions, make suggestions and resolve any differences of opinion that may arise.
5. Resolve to Make a Living Will
Depending on the state where you live, a living will may be called an advance health care directive, personal directive, medical directive, advance directive, or some other such name. Whatever your state calls it, this is the document in which you specify which medical treatments, interventions and therapies you want and don’t want in the event you can no longer communicate your wishes to your health care professionals and family members.
6. Resolve to Sign a Health Care Power of Attorney
As an adjunct to your living will, you should also sign a health care power of attorney naming the person you want to make medical decisions for you in the event you cannot make them for yourself. While this may seem redundant, it is better to be safe than sorry. New medical advances are made every day and your living will may not have covered one or more of them available at the time of your incapacity.
By keeping these six resolutions, your estate planning will go smoothly. And remember, AmeriEstate Legal Plan, Inc. can provide you with all the legal help you need.