Even if you have an estate plan already in place, it is more important than ever to make sure that it reflects your current wishes. An estate plan can have many parts, so it may seem overwhelming to go over everything all over again. An estate planning attorney in the Flemington area will help make sure your documents are up to date and make sure to focus on the most important components of your plan.
First and foremost, you will want to make sure that you have named a trustworthy, stable power of attorney and health care proxy, and back-ups. If there ever comes a time when you cannot make decisions for yourself, the power of attorney will be in charge of making financial decisions and the health care proxy will be responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf, as long as you are alive.
If you pass away, your power of attorney and/or health care proxy will no longer hold any power and your will then goes into effect. Therefore, it is essential that you name an executor of your estate (and a back-up) to ensure that someone reliable is handling your estate upon your death. Your will should also specify beneficiaries and name a guardian (and back-up) for your minor children. Beneficiaries also must be updated on any life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts. If you have recently gotten a divorce, gotten remarried, had a child, or lost a loved one, it is possible that you will need to change your beneficiaries to reflect these major life changes.
If you have a trust in place, the trust may be named as a beneficiary and a trustee that you name will administer the trust as specified by you. This trustee can be a trust company, attorney, accountant or anyone you trust to distribute the assets you leave behind. To avoid the lengthy probate process, it is better that you fund your trust while you still can so that the trustee will be able to take charge when the time comes. Also keep in mind that with the drop in investment account values, you may be able to transfer more of your assets without having to use as much of your federal gift tax exclusion.
By focusing on these critical areas of your estate plan, you can prepare for the future by making sure your loved ones are taken care of.