Have you heard that Estate Planning Awareness Week is recognized in October? Estate planning can be an essential part of your financial health no matter your age or how much money you have. Estate planning can be critical for anyone who wants to help ensure their wishes are respected in the event of temporary incapacitation or upon their death. That should apply to everyone, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Knowing the uncertainty of what tomorrow might bring, having an estate plan in place provides some security, and regularly updating what you have put in place can help ensure that security will continue.
Depending on your age, marital and parental status, and what kind of assets you have, estate planning can be simple or a bit more complex. For most people, having a written will, choosing a power of attorney and health care surrogate, and designating specific beneficiaries for bank and retirement accounts will go a long way to protecting the future they want for themselves and their loved ones.
Writing a will is often the first step. You can decide to whom you would like to leave any prized possessions, how to divide your eventual estate, and whether you want to set up any kind of trust that would allow your spouse or partner to live comfortably while preserving assets for children and grandchildren down the road. It can be equally important to designate specific account beneficiaries for bank and retirement accounts, and make sure the beneficiary you have chosen falls in line with your will.
A power of attorney can allow someone else to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf. If durable, this power will survive, even in the event you become incapacitated. A healthcare surrogate will allow someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You can choose a trusted loved one to fill both roles or choose two different people who may be better suited to one or the other. The important part is that, by planning ahead now, you get to make your own choices.
It can also be important to check in regularly with your estate plan and to make any changes that may be necessary due to life events, changes in law, or under other circumstances. In addition, regularly updating your account beneficiaries ensures they stay in line with what you have in your will and broader estate plan.
This Estate Planning Awareness Week, let us all take the time to learn more about the importance of estate planning and the steps we need to take in order to establish a strong estate plan. In times of great uncertainty, an estate plan can bring much needed peace. For more information, please reach out to our office and schedule a time to meet.