Effective estate planning is not an overnight endeavor. Many people spend months, and even years, perfecting their plans and making necessary revisions as life events occur.
While it’s not always possible to learn the details of someone else’s estate plan, knowing the common successes and pitfalls is helpful in crafting a solid plan that will protect you, your family, and your assets.
1) Have a Family Discussion
While conversations about end-of-life matters can be uncomfortable, crafting a detailed estate plan is essential to ensure your wishes are carried out. In addition, grieving family members in a fragile emotional state may be unable or unwilling to make sound decisions about your estate.
Only you can determine the level of detail you’re willing to provide. However, it’s important to gauge and understand the level of responsibility family members are comfortable with accepting. Be certain to speak with those individuals whom you wish to appoint in your estate planning documents.
2) Keep Your Will Up-to-Date
Life happens fast and there are times when it seems like months have passed in the blink of an eye. However, during this time, you may have experienced many life events that play a role in how you wish to have your assets allocated. These include marriage or divorce, birth or death of a loved one, employment and financial changes, and more.
When your will is current, you can guarantee that your overall estate plan is clear and easily understandable. It’s best to review your will at least once a year. As life events occur, it’s also wise to make immediate changes and updates.
3) Make Assignments Early
Don’t let unforeseen circumstances and scenarios, such as health and physical in-capacitation, leave confusion about your wishes. It’s important to assign duties to a trusted individual if you’re unable to make those decisions on your own.
Many people choose to create an advance directive (often called a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate) that allows a friend or loved one to make important medical decisions on your behalf. Many people also choose to create a Durable Power of Attorney that allows a friend or loved one to make financial decisions on your behalf.
4) Get Expert Advice
Estate planning can be complex with many difficult decisions to make. That’s why it’s important to work with a skilled and qualified attorney.
If you’re interested in speaking with an estate planning attorney, please call Wendy A. Mara of Mara Law, P.A. at 386.672. 8081. We offer consultations in our offices in Ormond Beach and Palm Coast.