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Year End Planning to Protect your Assets

Don’t procrastinate your estate planning because it only takes a few minutes to review and make sure you are protecting and preserving assets that will pass on to your heirs.

  1.  Review the beneficiaries listed on your individual retirement accounts and/or 401K plans.  About 80% of beneficiary forms on retirement accounts and life insurance are blank, outdated or incorrect.  Time and life events may cause changes to your plans.  Doing a periodic review of beneficiaries is important.
  2. Review your legal estate planning documents.  Do you have a) Last Will and Testament, b) Durable Power of Attorney c) Advance Medical Directive, d) Living Will or e) Revocable Living Trust.  Make sure that these documents are updated periodically.
  3. Make sure that you title assets properly so that at your death your assets will pass to your heirs without the complicated process of probate.  It may be as simple as adding a Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) to your account.  You may also consider holding assets in a Revocable Living Trust, which expedites the process of distributing property to your heirs.  This is a gift that your children or other heirs will be very grateful for.
  4. Protect the future of your dependent children by choosing a guardian to care for them in the event of both parent’s death.   This can be a difficult decision and you should make sure that your listed guardian is prepared for the task.  Communicate your wishes in a legally binding document, such as a will.
  5. Ensure that your family will have sufficient financial resources in the case of your death.  Review your life insurance coverage to make sure that it is adequate for your changing needs.

These are just reminders that life changes, children grow up, family circumstances change and we should perform these planning tasks periodically.