Posted by:  The Life and Legacy Planning Group

With the fall season approaching, it’s an excellent time to review your affairs. Below is a checklist to ensure your planning meets your needs and is up-to-date:

  1. When were your Powers of Attorney last updated? A power of attorney is a valuable legal document, no matter what the circumstance. You should have both a Power of Attorney for Property (financial Power of Attorney) and a Power of Attorney for Health Care. Not only are Powers of Attorney flexible to meet your particular needs, but the Power of Attorney for Property can be made effective immediately or when you are unable to manage your own affairs. It is vital to review Powers of Attorney periodically and replace them with new ones as necessary. This need may arise if you need to name a new person to help you or if you need to add or remove powers from the document. It should also be noted that many financial institutions are wary of accepting older Powers of Attorney, especially once they reach the ripe old age of 5 years.
  2. Does your Living Trust/Will still match your wishes? Once a Will or Living Trust is created, many people simply put it in a safe place and forget about it, treating it like a bucket list item that they can simply check off as having been accomplished. There are several reasons to review and update these estate planning instruments (and others) 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. Remember that a Will or Living Trust is a static document in a world where change is the only constant. Your personal and family life change constantly, as does your financial life, not to mention local, state and federal laws, including tax laws, so your Will or Living 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. Likewise, corporations have other legal and technical requirements which, if not complied with, may mean that you will be personally liable for your business debts and liabilities.
  4. Have you met with your tax advisor recently? End-of-year planning is important every year when it comes to your taxes and potential liability, but this is especially true now in light of the 2017 tax changes passed by Congress. The IRS has been busy releasing regulations and new forms so tax season will be much different next year. Learn about your options under the law ahead of time so you are not hit with a not-so-nice surprise come tax season.
  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.

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.

Do Not Delay

There are several reasons to review and update your legal matters, including your estate plan. Before you make any decisions be sure to contact your estate planning attorney and the rest of your professional team. Understanding how your wishes are affected by applicable law will help you make more informed decisions and protect you and your loved ones. Give us a call today.