Spring Cleaning Your Estate Plan
Spring has finally “sprung” and spring cleaning fever is upon most of us. But have you ever considered doing a "spring cleaning of your estate plan documents? Spring is a great time of year to take a look at the documents in your and make sure they're all up to date and reflect your intentions with regard to your estate and the individuals you intend to receive your generosity.
It's also a great time to take a look at what you have and make any shifts with regard to your estate. You probably just worked on your taxes, so you have access to your current financial state, including your real estate, bank, and investment accounts, your business interests, your vehicles and even your retirement plans and life insurance. Since those things are relatively fresh in your mind, they'll be easy to access and you and your estate planner can get together and discuss it. If you don't have an estate planner yet, well, spring is a good time to start anew, don't you think? The symbolism of such a thing is pretty cool, you have to admit.
Everyone's estate plan is different, by design. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach, no matter how many "kits" you see in local office supply stores. There are a number of tools available to everyone contemplating an estate plan, with the most important being the will, also known as a Last Will and Testament.
Also important to estate planning are trusts, which are crucial for even attempting to avoid probate, and they come in a number of types, including revocable and irrevocable. A properly drafted and updated trust can not only help avoid probate and maybe some taxes, but it can also shield some assets from long-term care expenses, including nursing home and hospice care.
Speaking of long-term care, depending on your situation, you may also benefit from a Power of Attorney and a Living Will/HealthCare Proxy, which would allow you to decide who gets to make decisions in your place and/or allow you to direct how you're cared for, even if you're incapacitated.
Spring is the best time of year to clean everything in your life, including your estate plan. Make sure everything works exactly as you intend.