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New Year Estate Plan Checkup

Jan 04, 2015 08:00PM ● By Jennifer Neys

by Daniel L. DuRee

Happy 2015! As another year unfolds before us, we reflect on where we have been and look forward to where we are headed. If you are anything like me, there are a few things you resolve to accomplish in the coming year that you just didn’t quite get around to in 2014.

            For many people, estate planning is one of the items that lurks on the periphery of the subconscious “to do” list we all harbor. While it may seem daunting, the estate planning process is straight forward, and once completed, it can be checked off that list to make room for other, more exciting activities, such as cleaning out the shed or organizing your recipes.

            To make it easier on you, I have compiled a list of estate planning issues to check on (and check off) in the new year.

            1. Do you have a revocable trust (and is it up to date)?

            A revocable living trust is crucial to avoiding the legal procedure equivalent of water boarding that is the California probate process. Make sure that all of your assets are currently held in the name of the trust or the trust will not function properly.

            2. Do you have a will nominating guardians for minor children?

            It is vitally important to ensure that your children are raised by people (or a person) you choose.

            3. Did you create a durable power of attorney for financial management?

            More than 75% of people that pass away do not have legal capacity to make decisions at the time of their death. Make sure to appoint an agent to make financial, tax, and benefit decisions on your behalf in case you are incapacitated.

            4. Are your beneficiary designation forms current?

            Retirement accounts, pensions, life insurance policies, and annuities are passed to others through a beneficiary designation form. Make sure that they reflect your current wishes. It is possible to designate a trust as a beneficiary so that assets will be distributed according to the trust distribution scheme.

            Going through this four-point checklist will ensure your assets are properly protected and your wishes are carried out should anything happen to you. If you need assistance, give me a call. I am happy to help. In a couple of short meetings, uncertainty can be traded for peace of mind. Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy 2015 from the Law Offices of Daniel L. DuRee.