Happy New Year!

We hope that all of our clients and friends had a joyous holiday and were able to enjoy time with friends and family.

With the beginning of a new year, it is important to take some time to review your estate planning documents to check if they need updating. Consider the following:

1.    Did you have a new child or grandchild this past year?  Sometimes, a Will can provide for children that were born after the Will was created.  However, to ensure all of your family will be provided for, it is important to have your estate planning attorney review your Will and any other estate planning documents.

2.    Were you recently married or divorced?  If you were married or divorced since the time you created your estate plan, then it is highly recommended you have your estate planning attorney amend or revise your documents to reflect these changes.  You may also consider changing your Personal Representative designation, Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, etc.

3.    Has your estate size increased?  If you estate size has increased since the time you created your estate plan, we recommend consulting with your estate planning attorney to ensure that any tax ramifications have been addressed.  Additionally, your plan may need to be updated to address any new properties you have acquired.

4.    Did you start a new business?  In addition to planning for the distribution of your personal assets upon your passing, it is also important to consider how you want your business assets to be handled upon your passing.  Your estate planning attorney can assist you in establishing a business succession plan.

Any significant life event may have an effect on your estate plan.  Your estate planning attorney will be more than happy to review your plan to ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes.

In addition to a Last Will and Testament, there are several other estate planning tools which should be incorporated into your plan.

A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a friend or family member to legally act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated.  This document can be used, for example, to enable another person to handle your finances or pay your bills, if you should be unable to do so.

A Designation of Healthcare Surrogate and HIPAA Release allow you to designate a person to make medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated, and permit your doctors or hospital to provide access or release your medical records to that person.

A Living Will allows you to provide instructions to your doctors and family members regarding life sustaining medical treatment.  By making these difficult decisions for yourself in advance, you are able to avoid placing the burden on your family of having to make such difficult decisions.

Start your New Year with peace of mind, knowing that your family and your estate are protected.  Contact us for a consultation to review your current estate planning documents or to assist you in creating a new estate plan.