Estate Planning Essentials: Helpful Tips for Year End Planning
The end of the year is quickly approaching and we all know what that means – New Year’s resolutions! Members of our estate planning and tax team offer some helpful tips for you and your family to consider as we approach the end of the year and decade.
- If you have not reviewed your estate planning documents in the last three years, dust them off and make sure they are up to date.
- If you have not completed your estate plan, now is the time to finalize the details.
- Review your account ownership arrangements for each of your accounts. This includes joint owner or pay on death beneficiaries, and the primary beneficiary and contingent beneficiary on your life insurance and retirement plans.
- Everyone should have incapacity documents that designate an agent to make medical and financial decisions if they are unable to make those decisions themselves. Make a point to execute an advance directive for health care naming an agent and setting forth your treatment preferences. You also should execute a durable general power of attorney, which will authorize someone to handle your finances. Discuss your wishes with your family and store all of these important documents in a safe place. Do not forget to let your family know where to find these documents and provide copies to your agent(s).
- Implement an organization plan to help streamline tax time. Create a specific email folder for tax related emails you receive throughout the year. Also, keep a special designated paper folder handy in your study/kitchen/mudroom as a catch-all for the paper tax documents that start to show up in January. Gathering information for your tax return will be hassle-free, and your tax preparer will thank you!
- If you do not already have life insurance, consider it. This is an especially good idea if you have dependent children. If something tragic were to happen, your family will not have to scramble to replace your income during an already difficult time.
- Use the good china every day! I’ve never had a client complain that they overuse their good china or silver. Most people keep these items carefully packed and preserved for future use, but then never get around to using them. Consider how much nicer every day living could be if you could put the beautiful things to use. A quick cup of coffee becomes something to savor and mundane moments are elevated when enjoying these treasures regularly.
Obtaining legal assistance does not have to be scary or intimidating. Our team works with clients on simple plans to very complex estates. We meet our clients where they are in life and determine how to provide the best possible solutions for their needs. If you or someone you know have questions about estate or tax planning, please reach out to us.