Estate Planning Resolutions for a New Year – Winter 2019

What better time to update your estate plan than now? Because the first few months of the year are a great time to make resolutions, here are some resolutions that we recommend for planning this year:

  • If you don’t have a plan, make one.
  • Check the dates on your existing documents. Many estate planners recommend a review every three to five years, but the following warrant reviews whenever they happen:
  • New tax laws (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December 2017)
    • New probate laws (Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code took effect in 2009- 2012)
    • New family members
    • Changes in your marital status
    • Major health changes or disability
    • Changes in your charitable intentions
    • Receipt of an inheritance
    • You reach age 70 ½
    • A member of your family dies
  • If you have a plan, make sure that you have arranged your affairs so that the plan will work. Your will only works on assets in your name. Joint property automatically passes to the joint owner and not by will. Life insurance policies, retirement plans, annuities, transfer-on-death accounts or other assets that have designated beneficiaries pass as provided in beneficiary designations and not by will. For many people, beneficiary designations control much more value at death than their will. If you are using a trust to manage your assets, make sure that your estate planning attorney coordinates the provisions of your will, trust and beneficiary designations.
  • Review your power of attorney. Is it updated? Does it name an attorney-in-fact who is still suitable to handle the role?
  • Review or create a health care proxy and other useful health care directives.
  • Think about whether you have given copies of your documents to those who should have them.
  • Arrange to make your passwords for on-line accounts available to your heirs, as appropriate.

The members of our Trusts and Estates Department are here to help you to make sure that your planning is current and effective.

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