As we look forward to this year’s end and a new year beginning, it is a good time for organizing year-end financials and setting new goals for 2021. That includes digging out your estate plan to make sure that it still represents an accurate snapshot of your life. The pandemic has certainly caused all of us to rethink some of our wishes, and it is important to ensure that your wishes are reflected properly in your documents.
If your have an estate plan and all of your documents are organized and handy, it should take you less than an hour to review everything and make sure that your Will, Trust, and other documents are up to date should something happen to you. If they are not easily accessible…resolve to change that in 2021.
Review Your Beneficiaries
If you have a life insurance policy, retirement savings plan, or other financial accounts, check to see who is listed as your beneficiary and update your beneficiary designation document if necessary. You may also want to select a contingent beneficiary if you have not already. In most cases, this can be done online which is especially convenient during times like this.
Update Your Will and Trusts
Everyone over the age of 18 should have a basic estate plan that includes a will. If you have children who are young adults, encourage them to have a simple will drawn up. If you have minor children or assets including life insurance, you will need a more comprehensive will and, in most cases, a trust. If you have a will or trust that is older, take a look at wishes you expressed in your documents and who you appointed in authority roles (personal representative, trustee, guardian) to make sure that you are still happy with your choices. Also, make sure that your documents reflect a current snapshot of your asset portfolio.
Add a Massachusetts Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney
If you become ill and confined to a hospital or otherwise incapacitated, a Massachusetts Health Care Proxy will allow a person of your choosing to make decisions related to your healthcare on your behalf. Be sure to discuss your wishes with this person and let them know that you will be giving them this responsibility so that they can be prepared. You will also need to include a Durable Power of Attorney in your estate plan which gives someone you have selected the authority to manage your financial affairs if you are incapacitated. This can be the same person you have chosen in your Massachusetts Health Care Proxy or you can choose another person close to you to take on this role. Both of these documents are essential for anyone over the age of 18 regardless of their financial situation, including young adults who are not married and do not have children. Once your child reaches the age of 18 (or 19 in some states), you no longer have certain parental rights. These documents can help eliminate any problems or delays if your adult child becomes ill.
If you do not have an estate plan, then please make this the year that you get it taken care of once and for all. Creating an estate plan is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family, and it will give you comfort and peace of mind for the future.
If we can help you get started, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give the office a call at (888) 849-5993. We are meeting with clients via Zoom to answer questions and assist in mapping out a plan that would ensure everyone you love and everything you own would be protected if you became ill, disabled, incapacitated, or passed away.
Here’s to starting 2021 on an organized and solid legal footing!