Are you planning a big trip this year? If so, you may have already began jotting down your travel to-do list to make sure that you do not miss anything for your big trip. Planning your wardrobe, checking travel arrangements and making reservations for meals and entertainment are probably high on your list. However, you should also take note of several estate planning “to do” items that should also be checked off your to-do list before you leave on your trip. Reviewing your estate plan before you leave will give you the peace of mind you want on your trip knowing that should something happen, your loved ones will be protected and provided for in your absence.
1. Stop procrastinating. If you have been putting off until tomorrow what you can do today, the day has arrived. Make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to discuss the estate planning tools that best suit your needs. Make sure that you do this well in advance of your trip so that everything is in order before you leave.
2. Review and update your existing estate plan. If you are on top of your estate planning, you should know that any changes in your finances or life changes such as the birth of a child, the death of a family member, marriage, divorce or remarriage are a reason to review, update and revise your estate plan. Make an appointment today to review and possibly revise your estate plan with your attorney.
3. Review titles and beneficiary designations. This is something that we all let slip our minds at times. We create a trust, draft a Will or buy and insurance policy and name a trustee, personal representative or beneficiary and then forget about it. However, your trustee may have died since you drew up your trust or a child may have been born and you need to name a guardian or add the child as a beneficiary to your life insurance policy. Now is an excellent time to review these designations to ensure they are accurate and make any changes if necessary before you leave on your trip.
4. Provide for your minor children. If you have not considered who would raise and care for your children in the event you are gone, do it right now! Your children deserve to be cared for by someone who is not only responsible but someone that you trust completely. Do not allow the state to make this decision for you. Appoint a guardian and/or trustee for your minor children immediately.
5. What happens if you become incapacitated? It is not a pleasant thought; however, you should want to be in charge of your healthcare even if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. If you do not have:
A Durable Power of Attorney for Heath Care giving another person legal authority to make health care decisions (including life and death decisions) for you if you are unable to make them for yourself; and, HIPPA Authorizations, written consents for doctors to discuss your medical situation with others, including family members. Do not allow the state to interfere with your healthcare wishes.
6. Review your insurance. You should review your life insurance periodically to ensure that the beneficiaries are correct and that the amount is sufficient to provide for your loved ones in the event of your death. If you do not have long-term care insurance, disability insurance or travel insurance, now is the time to discuss these policies with your insurance agent.
7. Organize your accounts and documents. Pull together each estate planning document, life insurance policy and other financial document that you have, organize them into one neat, easy-to-understand file and lock it in a safe. Before you turn the key, scan copies to your computer, make a backup file on another computer, print copies for your beneficiaries, trustees and other appointees and, of course, make sure your attorney has copies. Make sure that anyone who needs to know where to find these documents has a copy and know where to look for the originals.
8. Talk to your children about your plan. Obviously, you do not want to discuss your estate planning decisions with young children; however, as your children mature, it is a good idea to discuss your decisions with all of your children. It helps prevent discord and misunderstandings once you are gone if everyone is on the same page while you are still here to answer questions and explain why you left great-grandmother’s ring to Sarah rather than Jane.
Talk to estate planning attorneys at Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC. Their experience and knowledge can help you have the peace of mind of knowing not only that you have a plan, but that your plan still creates exactly the legacy that you want. Contact Attorney Daniel J. Krause or Nelson W. Donovan today.
Reach us through our website or call our office at (608) 268-5751 to schedule your confidential, no obligation initial consultation