A senior couple reviews their estate plan.

Start the Year Right With a Strong Estate Plan in Place

Do you know that many people spend more time planning vacations than they do planning for their estate?   The beginning of the new year is an excellent time for a comprehensive review of your current plan, to prepare for the year ahead and any milestones or challenges you may face. These can include things like marriage, a new grandchild, retirement, or an unexpected medical diagnosis.

The start of a new year is a good time to organize your estate planning documents.  Review what you have in place.  Take some time to determine if your documents are up to date and reflect your current wishes.  This is also a good time to determine if your beneficiary designations are up to date.  

Here are some important estate planning questions at the start of 2023.

  • Do you have the most important estate planning documents in place? 
  • Is your last will and testament reflective of your current wishes? Does your will name the people that you would like to inherit your estate?  
  • Are there any new family members to consider?  Are there special circumstances that did not exist the last time you reviewed your documents?  For example, do you have a special-needs child or grandchild recently born?   
  • Have you become an empty nester? Has your child reached the age of 18?
  • Have you hit the lottery or had a big financial windfall?
  • Have you retired or are you planning to retire soon?
  • Have you or your spouse received a concerning medical diagnosis?
  • Have you or your spouse moved into an assisted living or skilled nursing facility?

Milestones and life changes can impact your estate planning and may require amendments to your current documents.  For example, 

  • Everyone should have a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, and a last will and testament, at the minimum.  These documents need to be kept current.  They should not be “set it and forget it” documents.  
  • A new family member with special needs may need to inherit money into a special needs trust to protect any government benefits they would be entitled to.
  • If your child has turned 18, you may no longer be able to make decisions for them if they are not able to make them for themselves without proper legal documents in place.  
  • If you have had a recent financial windfall you may need to set up protective trusts. 
  • If you need to move a loved one into an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility, your current power of attorney may not include the language needed to plan financially for Medicaid eligibility.

Estate planning is an ever-changing part of planning for your future and for your family after you are gone.  Take some time now to ensure that things go well in the future.  

Van Dyck Law Group can help you with all your estate planning needs.  Contact us at 609-580-1044 to schedule an appointment.