The end of the year is fast approaching, and so many of us are doing our best to tie up our loose ends for 2020 and move into 2021 with a clean slate. All of us at Frank B. Pallotta Law have been working to do the same, which got us thinking about end-of-the-year estate plans!
The end of the year is the perfect time for reflection, rearrangement, and readjustment for plans. As you take stock of your life, and organize your world, make sure you’re going into the new year with all your important paperwork in order too. Specifically, ask yourself, “Have I done a check up on my estate plan this year?”
What is an estate plan?
Briefly, estate planning is the process of legally declaring what happens to your estate after death. It establishes what you wish to do with your tangible and intangible assets, as well as establishing any trusts, charitable donations, taxes, and funeral plans.
Why do an estate plan check-up?
It’s deeply important to revisit your estate plan at the end of every year, or at least once a year. A lot in your life can change over the course of a year. Assets can change, either by adding more or selling some off, trading. Not only that, potential beneficiaries can change drastically, marriages, divorce, adoptions, pregnancy and births, all change not only the dynamic of a family but the number of people considered when making the estate plan. A brief check up once a year can keep you and your family firmly on track when the plan needs utilized.
What will an estate plan check-up cover?
That will really depend on what has changed in your estate. If nothing changed for you this year, very little will happen other than to ensure everything is filed and labeled correctly. But if you had a great many life events and alterations, that may result in a complete overhaul of your estate plan.
- Assent inventory
- Go over your assets, both the tangible (house or land, car, personal possessions, etc.) and the intangible (checking accounts, savings, retirement funds, trusts, etc.) and note down anything that would have changed in the last year, or since you last gave your estate plan a check-up.
- Double check your deed!
- A surprising number of people think they understand and know what’s on their deed, and a surprising number of them are wrong.
- Consider Family Needs
- How much has your family’s needs changed this year? Have you had children, grandchildren, gotten married, or divorced? If any of that has changed since your last estate plan check up, make sure you’re updating your plan in consideration.
- Ensure everyone is set up properly
- In the same vein as evaluating your family’s needs, make sure everyone is set up correctly. Do you own property with your partner/spouse? Make sure that you’re set up accurately as “Joint Tenants with the right of survivorship” and have a valid will that expresses as much.
- Financial Powers of Attorney
- This is the perfect opportunity to make sure this is spelled out crystal clear. Decide and define who is making decisions when the time comes.
As morbid as it is, it’s important to ensure that your wishes are as spelled out as clear as they can be and secured legally. Don’t assume that word of mouth is secure enough if the worst happens and something goes to court.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! At Frank B. Pallotta Law we are licensed Georgia Real Estate Lawyers with more than 20 years of experience. When it comes to your estate plan we can help you figure out if you need a new deed, POA or if you need an estate planning specialist. Reach out to us with your questions. We’re here to help.