The New Year is filled with resolutions: lose weight, save money or plan a vacation, but in the thick of things it is easy to forget about planning ahead as you get a little older.
In this article, we review 3 Estate Planning Resolutions that should be part of everyone's 2013.
1. Review your beneficiary designations.
While the terms of your Will control the distribution
of your probate property, beneficiary designations determine who will inherit your non-probate
assets. Non-probate assets include brokerage or bank accounts with TOD (“Transfer on Death”) or POD (“Payable on Death”) beneficiaries, life insurance proceeds, assets held in a living trust, property held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship, etc. The beneficiary designations on these assets are just as important to your estate plan as the naming of beneficiaries in your Will because these beneficiaries will also inherit from your estate.
To conduct your review, identify the beneficiaries you have designated for each asset. If you have married, divorced, had children, or experienced any other significant change in family circumstances, you may wish to alter certain designations. If your current designations leave property outright to a minor or an individual with special needs, you may want to consider protecting those assets for your beneficiaries. For more information on protecting your beneficiaries' inheritances, call our office at (781) 237-2815.
2. Plan for the disposition of your digital assets.
Sure, you know who will inherit your house and your IRA after you are gone, but what will happen to your emails? The tax records stored on your hard drive? Your Facebook page? The family photos in your Flickr galleries?
If your estate plan fails to address these and other digital assets, your loved ones may have trouble accessing financial accounts or lose precious family memories. Furthermore, failing to close online financial accounts may even expose your estate to the risk of identity theft.
Start by making an inventory of your digital assets then give your loved ones or executor instructions regarding what you would like to happen to each asset. For example, are any of your bills on auto-pay? Should your Facebook page be taken down?
3. Schedule a review of your estate plan.
Generally speaking, it is a good idea to review your estate plan every year. This is particularly
important if you have recently experienced a significant change in circumstances, such as a birth or death in the family, a marriage or divorce, or a change in financial circumstances.
As we move into 2013, it is critically important to schedule a time to have your estate plan reviewed by our team of professionals, to be sure that your spouse, home and life savings will be protected.
At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones. We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.
We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your beneficiaries, digital assests, Estate Plan and legacy.