After the holidays, many families make resolutions or to-do lists for the upcoming year. While gym memberships and diets come to mind, people often add estate planning to their list.
From a legal perspective, here is the estate planning to-do list for every adult who does not have his or her affairs in order:
1. Review Your Assets
Take stock of what you own. This includes personal effects, jewelry, cash, investments, retirement accounts, life insurance, business interests, and everything in between. Have any of those assets changed since you updated your estate plan? Have you acquired any new assets since your estate plan was last updated?
2. Review Your Estate Plan (if you have one)
Look over the plan you have in place already. Have any of your wishes changed since it was prepared? Have any new people entered or left the family? Do you still believe your decision-makers are the right fit for the job?
3. Have An Estate Plan Prepared (if you don't have one)
Contact a local estate planning attorney to discuss protecting your own family. A complete plan will not only address protections for you while you are alive, but it will also arrange for your loved ones to be taken care of after you pass away. Make sure the attorney specializes in estate planning and asks the right questions. If you feel like the attorney is not allowing you to explain your situation, or worse, tries to fit your situation into a generic, catch-all plan (along with every other client), run the other way and find a different attorney!
4. Consult A Financial Advisor
Your financial advisor should be meeting with you regularly to review and update your financial strategy. Make sure you are properly invested for your age and situation. You should also ask your advisor if you have proper life insurance coverage. Finally, it is a good idea to talk to your advisor about the ways to pay for long-term nursing care. If you do not have a financial advisor, now is a good time to begin searching for one.
5. Talk To Your Parents About Their Own Plan
Now that you have made sure your own affairs are in order, it is time to talk to your parents. Make sure they have executed the necessary documents so that someone can take care of them when they are unable to care for themselves. If you are the person who will be in charge of taking care of them (or settling their estate when they pass away), it is in the best interest of both you and your parents to make sure everything is taken care of ahead of time.