If not, it should be! With the beginning of a new year we often have new resolutions or goals we would like to achieve. We often look at it as a fresh start to get back on track to accomplishing our objectives. There are many worthwhile goals that we all have the best intentions of achieving throughout the year; losing weight, exercising more, reading more, spending more time with family, and the list goes on and on. Most of us start out on the path to achieve these goals, but very few of us actually cross the finish line.
Some goals are more worthwhile than others. At the top of our list should be getting our affairs in order, so that when incapacity and death occur, there is no mess left behind. Unfortunately none of us know when or if we will become incapacitated, but we all know that we are going to die.
The question is: How can we make sure our affairs are in order today?
There are a few simple things that, if done correctly, will go a long way to making sure that our proverbial house is in order for the inevitable death and maybe even incapacity.
1) Have your estate plan reviewed. If you have not been in to see your estate planning attorney within the last 3 years you need to have your plan reviewed. There have been law changes that may affect your current plan.
2) If you do not have an estate plan, now is the time to get started on creating one. If you do not create your own plan the State has one for you. No one wants the State to decide who should be in control if you are incapacitated and where your assets will go when you die.
3) Make sure your loved ones know where you keep your important documents, including your estate plan. Have a list of where you keep all of your important documents like tax returns, estate planning documents, deeds to real estate, life insurance policies and bank statements.
4) Make a list of loved ones to be contacted upon your death. In addition, make a list of important people that should be contacted and their contact information– attorney, accountant, funeral director, doctor, financial advisor, etc…
5) Write a letter to those that you love. This letter will be given to them after you pass away. It is a letter that tells them what your hopes, dreams, and wishes for them are. It is not a place to be critical of them, but a place to tell them how proud of them you are. It is also a place to tell them why you did what you did within your estate plan. Why one child may have gotten more or why one child may have gotten cut out of the plan.
Most of our New Year’s resolutions always start off with the greatest of intentions and desires and then seem to fall by the wayside as the year goes on. Don’t let another year go by where things of the utmost importance are not carefully planned for and accomplished. Make a goal today to get your affairs in order, to be an excellent steward over the legacy you want to leave behind.