The beginning of any new year is a good time to reflect, look forward, and plan for the future – especially this year with a pandemic that has made self-reflection that much more important.
So many things have changed, including things we took for granted or overlooked before now. We as individuals have also changed during this time.
Most of us have faced the fact that we are not immortal, and we may have thought more about our own aging and immortality this year than we had in previous years.
Many people ask their estate planning lawyer what updates need to be made to their estate plan as one year ends and a new year begins. That this question is asked is a positive sign that someone is thinking of how best to protect themself and their loved ones. About 2/3 of people do not have an estate plan.
Here are questions you can ask to see if you have the basics of your estate plan covered as well as things you may want to update as we begin this new year:
- What is your plan in the case of your own incapacity (financial and medical powers of attorney)?
- Are your beneficiary designations up-to-date?
- What plan have you set in place for the distribution of your assets in accordance with your wishes?
- Are there any unique situations that need to be provided for, such as minor children, handicapped children, a spendthrift beneficiary or a child in a troubled marriage?
- Have you chosen who will oversee the administration of your estate (an executor or personal representative)?
- Have you recently reviewed your existing estate plan to see if anything needs updated or changed?
- If you are fortunate enough to need to worry about estate taxes, how can you minimize this potential liability? Keep in mind that tax laws may change during this coming year and the estate tax exclusion may be significantly reduced.
- Do you wish to assist family members by making tax free gifts, such as gifts for education or medical expenses?
- Do you wish to consider making a revocable trust part of your estate plan? You may want to use this to allow your heirs to avoid probate and to help administer your assets in the event of your incapacity.
Finally, I encourage you to take steps to promote peace and harmony for you and your family members and wish you a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year.
For help creating or updating your estate plan as we begin a new year, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.