As we roll into 2024, there are surely dozens of potential items that could be added to your New Year’s resolution list, many likely related to your health. From working out more to eating better, getting healthy doesn’t have to end at your waistline. Instead, you should also be thinking about getting your finances in shape this year. At Johannesmeyer & Sawyer, PLLC, our experienced lawyers can help you identify and execute your New Year’s resolutions for estate planning. Call us directly today for a consultation to get started.
The first place to start when estate planning, and something that you can easily kick off in early January, is to get more familiar with your financial situation. Take some time to get your accounts in order, take inventory of your assets, and start to identify some of your goals for your financial future. For example, when do you want to retire? If you’re a business owner, do you know what you want to do with your business when you’re ready to stop working? Do you want to be able to make a charitable contribution as part of your will? Have you added any new assets in recent years that need to be added to your will or placed in a trust?
Knowing where you stand and what you want is essential for being able to create your estate planning documents. While most of these documents can be modified at a later date, you want to be very comfortable with your estate plan at the time you create it.
Identify Your Beneficiaries
As part of the process of reviewing your assets and your goals, you’ll also want to identify your beneficiaries. Are there any new children or grandchildren that need to be added to your list of beneficiaries? Do you know how you want to provide for your beneficiaries? For example, have you considered establishing a trust to protect your assets?
Create a Will and Trust
A will is a legal document that outlines how your property and assets should be divided at the time of your death. A will can also be used to identify a guardian for any minor children, make charitable contributions, and even provide for surviving pets. A trust is another type of estate planning document that can be used to keep assets, which are managed by a trustee, for a beneficiary. Many people have both a will and a trust, as each can provide unique benefits.
Create a Living Will/Advanced Directive
No one likes to think about a day when they may be unable to make decisions due to a health condition or severe accident; however, it is impossible to predict when that day may come, and therefore being prepared is important. A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that outlines your wishes for medical treatment in the event that you are unable to communicate. For example, an advanced directive can provide doctors with guidance on choices related to treatment if you are terminally ill, in a coma, or require life-saving treatment.
Set Up a Power of Attorney
Just like creating a living will, which will guide others in executing your wishes in the event that you are unable to communicate them, a power of attorney is another important legal document. A power of attorney is used to appoint someone who can make decisions about your healthcare, finances, or both in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to do so yourself.
Discuss Your Estate Plan with Your Loved Ones
Once you have created your will, set up a trust, and drafted legal documents such as an advanced directive and power of attorney, it’s strongly recommended that you discuss your decisions with your loved ones. In the event that you die, your loved ones will take comfort in knowing that your wishes for yourself and your estate have already been outlined—making these decisions can be difficult and contentious for family members to do.
Call an Estate Planning Attorney Today
One of the first steps in turning your New Year’s resolutions for estate planning into reality is to find an estate planning attorney near you with experience that you trust. At the law office of Johannesmeyer & Sawyer, PLLC, our lawyers have decades of experience and a reputation for excellence. To learn more about our estate planning services and how to get started, reach out to us by phone or online today. We’re reachable at (803) 396-3800, or by filling out the online contact form on our website.