Are your worn out yet? Every day seems to bring more challenges and more uncertainty. Meanwhile, there are certain times of the year and certain times in your life when you should take a step back and organize. Under ordinary circumstances, fall is one of those times. Therefore, before the holidays dominate your thoughts, plans, and daily activity, the fall season is the time to review your current circumstances, go through a fall planning checklist, and to ensure you are protected, and your family is secure.
Five things you should be doing now
1. Review your Living Trust or Last Will and Testament
Our lives have changed drastically in 7 months. Consequently, your estate plan might be out of date.
- What has changed in your family? Any births or deaths? Have you moved?
- In the event something happens to you, does your estate plan reflect your current wishes?
- Are your beneficiaries the same? Do you need to remove a beneficiary or add a new one?
- Are any changes needed on the timing of the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries?
- Do any of your beneficiaries require asset protection because of disability, legal trouble, or a failing marriage?
- Is your Trustee or Executor still appropriate?
- Are all your assets titled in the name of your Living Trusts?
2. Review Your Real Estate Deed(s)
With interest rates at historic lows, the chances are you have refinanced recently. As a result, your real estate deed may not reflect your intentions.
- Do you have a Living Trust? Did you remember to retitle your property deed into the name of your Trust after the refinance closing?
- Have you moved your residence? Did you take the title of your new property in the name of your Living Trust?
- Are you still working? If so, as the active police and married, the title to the deed of your principal place of residence should be in Tenants by Entirety for maximum asset protection.
- Have you gotten married? Congratulations. However, title the property deed in the proper names or proper Trust.
3. Review your beneficiary designations
It is common to take out a policy and never again review beneficiaries. For example, I have had clients whose former spouses are the primary beneficiary! The most common mistake is not listing all your children as beneficiaries. Review your fall planning checklist twice on this one.Have you recently reviewed your deferred comp and life insurance beneficiaries?
Were any children born after the policy or account was opened?
Are any of your beneficiaries under the age of 18? If so, name your Living Trust as beneficiary to protect against probate court.
Are any of your beneficiaries living with a disability? Importantly, name your Living Trust as the beneficiary of all accounts and policies. Moreover, the Trust should have a Special Needs provision, so their inheritance does not jeopardize their SSI or Medicaid or be subject to government reimbursement.
4 Review your Power of Attorney Documents
A Financial Power of Attorney authorizes a trusted agent to be able to sign your name on financial transactions. A Health Care Power of Attorney appoints an agent to make all health care and end of life decisions on your behalf.
- Are your agents outdated because of age, disability, or residence?
- Is your child now old enough to be your agent?
- Today, many hospitals and long term care facilities are prohibiting visitors. Update your Health Care Power of Attorney to include authority for your agent to access health care workers remotely and to visit you via Zoom or Facetime.
5 Review Your Insurance Liability Coverage
- Be sure your homeowner’s policy adequately covers the current replacement value of your home and all current contents.
- Verify that your auto coverage is adequate. You should secure a minimum $1 million Umbrella policy if the net value of your assets and all your savings exceed $250,000.
- Verify that your homeowner’s policy reflects the correct title of your real estate deed, i.e., Living Trust name. Above all, if you are currently working and married, title your principal place of residence in Tenants by Entirety for maximum asset protection.
As you prepare for winter and the Holiday Season, now is the time for review and organization of your affairs and to thoroughly review your fall planning checklist. Importantly, if you do not have a Living Trust yet, this is the time to get one.
A Revocable Living Trust is a written, legal document that allows you to privately and efficiently pass all of your assets to your family, friends, or charities after your death – outside of Probate Court. (Remember, all Wills are subject to Probate Court.)
You can sign your Living Trust estate plan documents safely in our West Loop office, with free parking, or remotely from the convenience of your home with Zoom conferencing.
Visit our website for further information and registration online. 312-559-8400
This blog entry created for information and planning purposes. Therefore, it is not legal advice. Please do not use this blog as legal advice, which turns on specific facts, as well as laws in specific jurisdictions. No reader of this blog should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the reader’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction