With holiday season in full swing, you may not be thinking about your estate plan, but you should be. Having the family around and other loved ones for the festivities is a great reminder of how much they mean to you—and how you can care for their future. Now is the perfect time to take a few quiet moments to reflect on how the year’s events may have affected your estate plans.
Here’s a short checklist:
1. Create an estate plan.
If you don’t have a last will and testament, it’s time to prepare one. And if end-of-the-year planning has you thinking about future tax bills, consider options such as a trust account to protect your estate and reduce tax liability.
2. Update your estate plan.
Do you already have a will, make sure it still represents your wishes. Questions to address:
• Were there any births, deaths, marriages, divorces and other life events that affect your will?
• Did you acquire, sell, or otherwise dispose of assets—new property, a car, jewelry or art? Have there been changes in assets’ value?
• Did you acquire or change any bank accounts, life insurance, pensions or investments?
• Did you move, especially from one city or state to another?
• Did you begin or end any relationships with individuals or organizations? (And don’t forget your pets!)
3. Create a living will and other powers of attorney.
In Arkansas, two documents—a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care—work together to form an advance directive that gives medical caregivers and family directions in the event that you can no longer make decisions for yourself. Beyond the medical context, you can also create other powers of attorney—for specified time, issues and more.
4. Hold a family meeting to set financial priorities.
If you have close relatives in town, you’re likely already discussing the values that your family holds dear. Turn that conversation from something philosophical to something tangible—plans for charitable donations, business succession and more.
5. Check the details.
Make sure terms, beneficiaries, trustees, etc. are correct: Double-check names, contact information, account numbers for any will documents, life insurance policies, pensions and other accounts.
6. Formulate a digital estate plan.
Compile logins, passwords and account numbers so a designated person can manage bank and investment accounts, social media, and other digital assets.
If you want to be sure you’re not missing anything—from tax considerations such to charitable contribution—contact us at (800) 827-7784 to be ready for the New Year.