Estate Planning Law

New Year’s Resolution – Review Your Estate Planning for 2020

We are beginning a whole new decade. There could not be a better time to think about our legacy. It is most likely you have a number of New Year’s resolutions on your list for 2020. So, as you are taking the time to think about the future, take a little extra time to think about the future for your family. Make one of your New Year’s resolutions a commitment to review your estate plan.  

Things Change, So Update Those Estate Docs

At Doane & Doane, the estate planning attorneys in Palm Beach, we have clients consistently come to us with estate plans that are considered outdated. For example, more than one client has come to us with a last will and testament that has specific provisions for minor children, when their children are not only adults now, but they have children of their own.

Try not to wait that long to review your estate plan. Indeed, it is actually a good practice to review your estate plan every few years. That periodic review is vital because laws change, families change, families get bigger, and your wishes will change too. 

In that spirit, this blog is devoted to providing you with a list of things to consider with regard to your estate plan. Be sure to check off each and every one of these items to make sure that you have taken a comprehensive look at your estate plan.  

Of course, it may seem like an unpleasant chore to review documents that are designed to be executed at your passing. True, it is not always the most fun to talk about estate planning, but you will find that you gain much-needed peace of mind after having done it. Knowing that your affairs are in order removes a burden for you, so you can enjoy life, knowing that you have taken care of those you love.

If after reading this article, you want to review your own estate plan with an experienced estate planning attorney in Palm Beach, we invite you to call Doane & Doane at 561-656-0200. We understand what makes a good estate plan, and we are ready to help you.

And now, here is the list of estate planning items to review.

1. Beneficiaries

Beyond the beneficiaries listed in your will, many important financial assets like your Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), investment assets, and insurance policies allow for you to specifically designate beneficiaries.  Also, with many of those financial assets, the beneficiary you name will immediately receive your assets and do not need to wait for a probate process.

Accordingly, review the primary and contingent beneficiaries on all of those financial instruments to ensure that they reflect your current wishes. You may be surprised to find former spouses or other people listed to whom you no longer are close. This review is important because, as noted, any account with a named beneficiary will supersede your will.   

2. Powers of Attorney

If you ever become incapacitated, then you need a person whom you trust to make important decisions on your behalf. That person should have power of attorney for you. So, if you do not already have a power of attorney in case you cannot make decisions for yourself, then be sure to choose a spouse, close relative, caregiver, or best friend identified as your power of attorney.  

This is a rather important designation because the person who serves as your power of attorney will need to make decisions on bank accounts, property, and other assets for you.  

3. Healthcare Proxies

In the same vein as a power of attorney, you will also want to make sure you are comfortable with a person who can make healthcare decisions for you in case you are incapacitated and cannot make decisions yourself. Typically, a spouse or close relative will be named as a health care proxy.  

4. Last Will and Testament

Generally seen as the final word, by you, on where you want your assets to be distributed once you pass away, the last will and testament should be reviewed periodically. It is arguably the best way in which you can avoid disputes among family and business partners about what your wishes are with regard to your assets.  

5. Advance Directives

Often called a “living will,” an advance directive is a legal document that allows you to give detailed instructions about your end-of-life care.  It will cover such things as choices about life support. It is meant to clarify any question as to what measures should be taken to keep you alive if you cannot communicate your wishes.

6. Any Trusts?

If you have created a revocable living trust, then you need to ensure that your assets have been retitled in the trust’s name. That is a critical step in “funding” a trust, and surprisingly many people miss that step. The kinds of things you may want to include in a trust – which is an instrument that allows the assets in the trust to avoid going through probate – are real estate and investment accounts.  Sometimes you can include certain personal property, stocks and bonds, and debts owed to you in a revocable trust.

7. Can Your Documents be Found?

Finally, the last thing you should check is whether your estate planning documents can be easily located by close relatives.  Your wishes cannot be enforced unless your family and business partners know what your wishes are. So, make sure that your executors and/or powers of attorney know where to locate key contacts and documents.

Estate Planning Attorneys in Palm Beach Are Ready to Assist

At Doane & Doane, we have the resources and experience with estate planning issues to help you. Having handled many, many probate matters in the past, we have seen first-hand how ugly disputes can arise when inheritance comes into play, and when the parents are not clear on their wishes ahead of time. Let us help you avoid those possible disputes by creating a thoughtful estate plan now.  

So, if you think it is now time to get started on your own estate plan, give us a call. Our advanced estate planning attorneys in Palm Beach are ready to assist you and get you that peace of mind you need. Call Doane & Doane today for more information at 561-656-0200.