With the fall season in full swing, it’s an excellent time to review your legal affairs. Below is a checklist to ensure your planning meets your needs and is up-to-date:
1. When was your power of attorney last updated? A power of attorney is a valuable legal document, no matter what the circumstance. This document is very flexible and can be prepared to meet your particular needs. Also, it can be made effective immediately or when you are unable to manage your own affairs. It is vital to review it periodically and replace it with a new one as necessary. This need may arise if you need to name a new agent to help you or if you need to add or remove specific powers from the document.
2. Does your trust/will still match your wishes? Once a will or trust is created, many people simply put it in a safe place and forget about it. There are several reasons to review and update these estate planning documents including marriage or divorce, birth or adoption of a child, a recent windfall of cash or assets, the purchase or sale of a home, or a recent move to another state or country. As your life changes, so your will or trust must change too to ensure that your needs and desires continue to be met.
3. Is your business paperwork in order? Whether you own an LLC, corporation, or another type of business entity, each year paperwork must be filed with the secretary of state and potentially other government agencies. Make sure all of your documents have been updated, fees have been paid, and licenses have been renewed. If they are not yet due, make sure to calendar these deadlines as to not miss them.
4. Have you met with your tax advisor recently? End-of-year planning is important any year when it comes to your taxes and potential liability, but this is especially true now in light of recent tax law changes and new case law. Make sure that your planning documents comply with current law and tax provisions.
5. Have you met with the rest of your professional team? Whether the market is a bear or bull, it is important to meet with your financial advisor to go over your investment results annually and put together an investment strategy for the upcoming year. For legal questions, it’s important to meet with your attorney before a legal situation becomes difficult to manage. You may also want to meet with your CPA, professional trustee, wealth advisor, charitable organizations, or other professionals, to ensure your plan is coordinated across all aspects of your life.
These are just some of the items you should focus on when considering your personal matters and ensuring your legal life is up-to-date.
There are several reasons to review and update your legal matters, including your estate plan. Before you make any decisions be sure to contact an attorney certified as a specialist in estate planning trust and probate law, as well as the rest of your professional team. Understanding how your wishes are affected by applicable law will help make you make a more informed decision and protect you and your loved ones.