The end of any year is a busy time with holidays and family obligations. However, it also is a good time to take stock in your personal and professional life and plan for any adjustments you need to make for 2019.
If you already have an estate plan in place, take this time to review the beneficiaries that you named in your Trust or Will. Have there been any marriages, divorces, or births in the past year that require a change to your estate planning documents? It also is advisable to review the beneficiaries named on your insurance policies, 401(k), IRA, bank accounts, and other financial assets.
If you’ve purchased or inherited a new house, car, mineral rights, etc. in 2018, your estate plan should include those items. If not accounted for in your estate planning documents, you could unintentionally create a probate action upon your death. Similarly, if you have sold an asset, be sure your estate plan has been adjusted accordingly.
Review your Powers of Attorney and confirm that the individuals you named as your agent are still able and willing to act as your agent. Perhaps you no longer have the same relationship with the named agents, or perhaps one of the agents has moved away. Additionally, some financial institutions and medical providers are leery of powers of attorney that are more than a few years old, even though the documents are still legally valid. To avoid problems, we recommend updating your Powers of Attorney at least every 2-3 years.
We also recommend informing one trusted family member as to the location of your original estate planning documents. Although it is not required, you may wish to schedule a family meeting to walk through the contents of your estate plan. This allows you the opportunity to explain your wishes and gives your family a chance to ask questions. You also can ask your attorney to explain your estate plan to your family. A family meeting with your attorney can help your children understand how your estate will be handled upon your death and provide some measure of neutrality for families with more volatile personalities.
Don’t forget that you may be able to deduct attorney’s fees on this year’s taxes, if the charges are paid before December 31. In fact, you may be able to pre-pay 2019 anticipated expenses. Check with your tax professional to verify if this option applies to your situation.
The attorneys at Davis & McCann, P. A. have been helping western Kansas clients since 2003. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys. Our focus is to provide the best legal advice on Estate Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Medicaid and Long-term Care Planning, Business Succession Planning, Farm and Agricultural Business Succession Planning, Real Estate Transactions, and related matters.
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