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Making 2019 resolutions? Don’t neglect estate planning

Did the last year feel like it went fast? Imagine how quickly the next might pass. With age, time can have the tendency to accelerate.

Yet certain things remain on the back burner. Scheduling an appointment to create or review an estate plan might be right up there on your list with cleaning out the drain traps. It shouldn't be. Here is a list of some things to aspire to in 2019 and a reference to our 2018 post for tips on when to revisit an estate plan.

Take time to think about the future

Oftentimes, we get caught up in the day-to-day business of life. Put a calendar reminder to form and/or meet with a planning team. This should include a CPA, investment advisor, insurance agent, estate planning attorney, potential fiduciaries and a care manager (when facing health challenges).

Bring heirs and beneficiaries into the process to avoid surprises. It may also present an opportunity to update a plan based on feedback from children. What is the likelihood they will continue to use of a vacation property? Are there any heirlooms to which certain heirs feel significant attachments?

Ease of access to important documents

In an emergency, do loved ones know what to look for and where to find important documents like a Medical Power of Attorney? Placing important documents in a secure cloud-based service can offer access anywhere.

Get electronic copies of key documents to those who might need them. Also, make sure they know where to find the originals.

Trustee and beneficiary designations

When did you last look at who was listed as the beneficiary on your employer-provided 401(k), credit union savings account or life insurance policy? If you don’t know, it is time for a review. You do not want to leave loved ones with a mess by leaving an ex-spouse or parent, who has since passed away, listed as a beneficiary.

If you have set up a trust, consider who you have listed as a trustee or successor trustee. It is risky only designating one person without a successor. Might an institutional trustee be a better fit to avoid future acrimony between siblings? Could multiple trustees offer better checks and balances?

When several years have passed and you have still not gotten around to estate planning, resolve to get an estate plan or review during 2019. Scheduling an appointment with an attorney could be the prompt that you need.

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