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Jan 26, 2017

5 Estate Planning Resolutions to Make (and Keep!) in 2017

Are you making New Year’s resolutions to kick start 2017?  Here is an idea you probably haven’t considered: resolve to get your legal documents in order.  If you are like most people, updating legal documents is more likely at the bottom of your to-do list, than at the top. You know how important these documents are, and you have every intention of updating them at some point.  Why not now?

Having the ability to choose for yourself who will handle your finances and who will make necessary medical decisions for you is an ability that comes with an expirations date.  To ensure that the person who is given the right to make these important choices on your behalf is the person you have in mind, resolve to put your wishes in legally binding documents sooner rather than later.  The beginning of the New Year is the perfect time to make resolutions to protect those you love.


Resolve to have those uncomfortable discussions that you’ve been avoiding

Planning how your loved ones will live without you, choosing who will raise your children for you, and deciding how your spouse will financially run your household as a single parent are incredibly tense topics.  The fact that these conversations are riddled with emotion, is the reason people put off having them.  However, postponing these decision means making no decision.  The fact is that these decisions will either be made by you or made for you.  Choose to take the active role and decide your family’s plan for yourself.

Resolve to Inform Yourself of your options

You may have an idea of how you want your estate handled when you pass, but do you know what steps are required to achieve these goals?  You may be surprised to learn just how many options can potentially lead you to the results you want.  Revocable Trust, Testamentary Trust, Pour-Over Will –  what are these, and how do they differ from each other? Which is the best option for you?  Vow to educate yourself on these and other relevant options by consulting an expert.  Then use that knowledge to implement the best strategy for you and your family. 

Resolve to review and update all existing documents

Changes such as moving out of state, a marriage, death in the family, divorce, are some of the most obvious triggers that your legal documents need updating.  However, don’t let other life changes go unnoticed.  Have your children become adults since you last updated your estate plan? Are they heading off to college this fall?  Additionally, Personal Representatives warrant a second look every few years.  Are you still in touch with your college roommate who is your current PR?  Are your minor children’s designated guardians still in sync with your parenting style and morals?  Have you inherited property or money from a deceased relative since you last reviewed your estate?  Make this the year you ensure your plan is up-to-date.

Review the Beneficiary Designations on your Insurance and Retirement Plans

Beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement plans are common options used to fund estate plans.  Yet, these designations are often forgotten about once legal estate planning documents are updated.  The last thing you want to do is update your trust to write out an ex-spouse or to disinherit a child but inadvertently leave that person as the beneficiary of your life insurance.  Let’s not forget the basic act of funding the trust itself.  Too often people have a legal trust drafted, then neglect to change necessary designations that are crucial to funding that trust.

Resolve to Sign a HIPAA Release Authorizing Your Patient Advocate Access to Your Medical History

Doctors will not give out any of your health information without your written consent.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows patients to maintain control over who a health provider is allowed to give their medical information to.  You must give written permission for your designated Patient Advocate to access to your medical information in case of an emergency or sudden incapacity.  Without a HIPAA consent form, your Patient Advocate is left to make current medical decisions without knowing your past medical history. 

Make 2017 the year you make – and keep – a resolution that your family will thank you for!

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

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