Don’t Procrastinate on Your Estate Plan
December is right around the corner, and the year will be over before you know it. Now is a great time to meet some estate planning goals! Here are 6 things you should do before the year is over.
1. Have your estate planning done.
Estate planning is one of those things you know you need to do, but you haven’t gotten around to it yet. Stop procrastinating, and get it off your mind! Make the end of this year your deadline to get your affairs in order. If you have been holding off because you don’t quite know what to do, your attorney can help you. If money is tight, start with the essentials and what you can afford, then you may add on to your plan later.
2. Make tax-free gifts.
You can give up to $14,000 to an unlimited number of people each year. This is a great way to reduce the size of your estate over time. For example, if you give $14,000 per year to your three children and two grandchildren, you would remove $70,000 from your estate. This would mean that in five years you could reduce your estate by $350,000. If you are married, you can double the amount. Charitable donations and gifts for tuition and medical expenses are unlimited if you give directly to the institution.
3. Review/update guardianship for your children.
The person you named as your children’s guardian years ago may not be the best choice anymore. You might have become distant with this person, or perhaps you now see them unfit to care for a child for any number of reasons. Sometimes the person may have simply moved away or changed their mind. Revisit your choice from time to time, and name a back-up. If you do not have someone named as a guardian, the court will make the decision for you.
4. Review/update your insurance.
Check to make sure your life insurance coverage meets your family’s current needs. Consider long-term care insurance as an option to help pay for the costs of long-term care and to preserve your assets for your family in the event you and/or your spouse should need it.
5. Talk to your children about your estate plan.
Talking to your loved ones about your estate plan can be difficult and emotionally taxing. With that being said, it is crucial to at least talk in general terms about what you are planning and why. Talking about the plan and why you made the choices you did helps to clear things up and keeps discord later down the line to a minimum. Talking about your estate plan early on helps your loved ones understand and accept your wishes.
6. Get basic documents for your unmarried kids who are over 18.
A lot of things change when your child legally hits adulthood. It may come as a shock when you realize that you pay your child’s college tuition, but you aren’t even allowed to see their grades. It can be much worse if they become ill. You need to have basic documents for your unmarried children that are over 18 in order to act on their behalf in a medical emergency. And, while you’re at it, have your attorney prepare a Simple Will and Durable Power of Attorney to cover their assets.
If you need help with your estate planning, please contact the Law Office of Justin M. Gilbert. We can help you create the plan you desire or update an existing plan. Give us a call and we will be happy to help by answering any questions you may have.