Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Simple Steps To Encourage Estate Planning

Today is a great day to stop procrastinating and to start thinking in terms of future plans for your estate.  Tomorrow is not a guarantee thus making an estate planning necessary sooner than later.   Without a plan in place your estate is left to be decided in probate.  In this article we will give you some simple steps to encourage you to start planning your estate today.
  • Give yourself a time limit: If you don’t have a deadline in place there will always be an excuse on why today isn’t that day.  Plan to have your estate plan done by your next birthday, anniversary or large family gathering.
  • Research: It is important to hire an attorney to help in your estate planning process. This does not mean that you shouldn’t look into different aspects of estate planning prior to meeting with them.  Many attorneys’ also offer free seminars.  This allows you as a consumer to become educated on aspects of estate planning while meeting with local attorneys.
  • Get your financial house in order: This is a step that can be done even before you meet with an estate planning attorney.  Create a spreadsheet with all of your current assets, their current market values, debts and resulting net value.  Put important papers such as account statements in a folder to take with you when you meet with the attorney.  All assets should be accounted for along with debts. 
  • Create a list of individuals you want to gift to: Create a list of individuals with whom you would like to inherit a piece of your estate.  In your estate plan you will need to include their full name, date of birth, address and relation.  In this list include charities, educational or religious organizations.    You are then able to control how and when you want the inheritance to be received.  Some people choose to dole out their estate all at once while others choose a systematic approach to gift funds on a schedule. 
  • Consider an executor: This person needs to be someone you trust who will abide by your wishes.  If you have children who are under the age of eighteen you will want to choose a guardian.  The executor will work with the chosen guardian until they have reached the age in which you wish them to have control over their own inheritance.
  • Healthcare advocate: When you are making an estate plan another crucial aspect is to assign a healthcare advocate.  This individual will be in charge of your healthcare decisions should you become unable to make them for yourself.  This person should know your desires regarding assisted living.  Clearly state your desires to this individual in order to avoid confusion during an already stressful moment in time. 
  • Meet with a local attorney specializing in estate planning: This is a vital step in estate planning.  A lawyer that specializes in estate plans can correctly draft the documents to read as you desire.  With their assistance, your desires will clearly be stated and loved ones will not be able to questions your intentions.  An estate planning attorney creates documents to allow your estate plan to work as you wish.
The Law Office of Sean J. Nichols is dedicated to assisting clients throughout legal issues that come with aging including: elder law, estate planning, probate law and more.  Check out the Law Office of Sean J. Nichols at http://www.seanjnichols.com to contact an estate attorney today.

When Your Personnel Situation Changes Make Sure To Update Your Estate Plan

Everyone knows that it is important to have a solid estate plan in place. What many people forget it that this process doesn’t end just because an attorney designs an estate plan for you. That is just the beginning.  An estate plan must be updated regularly to reflect your current lifestyle.  Anytime there is a change in your financial or personnel situation you should work with your attorney to update your estate plan.
  • Divorce/Separation: Once you become legally separated or divorced it is crucial to update your estate plan to reflect your new goals and ideals.  It is also a time to reflect on the future.  Take into account that an influx of relationships end in divorce.  This is a great time to input provisions in your estate plan to protect your heirs against potential changes in their own marriages.
  • Re-Marriage: There are many complex situations involved when couples remarry.  This is especially true when both partners have children from previous relationships.  An estate planning attorney can help navigate the complexities of providing for a blended family. 
  • Birth/Adoption of Children: Your estate plan should have in place provisions for your children’s future financially.  An estate plan should also provide a detailed plan for the children’s care should you and your spouse die or become incapacitated.  A guardian should be appointed to support your children into adulthood. 
  • Illness/Injury: Your estate plan needs to be kept updated for when you or a family member becomes seriously ill.  The needs for your care or their care have changed and this change should be reflected in an updated estate plan.  It is also important to include a plan and appoint a power or attorney of health care for your own needs.  You will want someone to be in charge of your decisions if you become unable to do so yourself.
  • Tax Law Changes:  With constant changes to the economy that affect certain tax laws it is crucial that your estate plan reflects these changes appropriately. The updates to tax laws can dramatically affect your estate.  An attorney specializing in estate planning will help you make changes in your plan that coincides with the new legislation that is in place.
  • Inheritance: With an increase to the value of your estate comes a need to change how your assets are passed to those you love when are deceased.
It is important to keep your estate plan up to date on a regular basis.  Review your plan with your estate attorney to ensure it is always up to date and in line with the manner in which you intend to distribute your assets when your death occurs.
The Law Office of Sean J. Nichols is dedicated to assisting clients throughout legal issues that come with aging including: elder law, estate planning, probate law and more.  Check out the Law Office of Sean J. Nichols at http://www.seanjnichols.com to contact an estate attorney today.