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Setting a Deadline: Key Considerations for Your Estate Plan

On February 5th, I discussed whether you have taken steps to protect your family and your assets in case you should pass away.  A topic no one likes to think about.  I outlined the first five steps.

Now that you have accomplished the first five things to do, here are an additional five things you should do.  Set a Deadline – how about March 30th?

6. Talk to your children about your estate plan. You don’t have to tell them everything or go into the details about your finances.  You can talk in general terms about what you are planning and why. The more they understand it, the more likely they will be able to accept it—and that will help to avoid fights after you are gone. This is a time to talk with them about your values and your hopes and dreams for each of them.

7. Review/update beneficiary designations. Often, I find that beneficiary designations are not up to date. This is especially important if your beneficiary has died or if you are divorced. If your beneficiary is incapacitated or is a minor, setting up a trust for this person and naming the trust as beneficiary will prevent the court from taking control of the proceeds.

8. Review/update your insurance. Check the amount of your life insurance coverage and see if it meets your family’s current needs. Perhaps, you do not need the insurance at this time or would be better off exchanging the policy for a replacement policy at lesser cost.

Consider getting long-term care insurance to help pay for the costs of long-term care (and preserve your assets for your family) in the event you and/or your spouse should need it due to illness or injury. If you do not have long-term care insurance, what is your plan to pay for care? Should you consider Medicaid planning?

9. Review/update guardian for minor kids. Are the guardians in your Will still the right choice? Do you need to update your Will?  Have you also executed a Guardianship designation in New York that allows the Guardian to step in immediately? If you have children over 18, they may be an appropriate choice for a younger sibling. Remember, if you haven’t named a guardian who is able and willing to serve and something happens to you, the court will decide who will raise your kids.

10. Get basic documents for your unmarried kids who are over 18. Hard to believe, your children are now adults and should have baseline estate planning in place (Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Living Will and Last Will and Testament).  Otherwise, you no longer have a say in making decisions. What would happen if your child was in a car accident and now lay in a hospital bed? Who will make health care and financial decision for your child? You may be surprised that you cannot unless you are his agent or go to court for legal guardian.

For the first five steps, click here.

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