During this time of year most people are running around frantically trying to finish up their Christmas shopping and getting those last minute items for the kids and grand kids. It can be a very stressful thing to try and shop for those that you love the most, when you are dealing with the crowds, the parking, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
I know that estate planning is not on the list of priorities when it comes to the holidays, so this may be an exercise in futility, but since this is my profession I have to give it a shot. With the holidays comes time being spent with family that we have not seen for some time. I would recommend to take advantage of this time together with friends and family and do the following 5 things regarding your estate plan:
- Tell your loved ones where your estate plan is kept and give them a list of important people they will need to contact should something happen to you. Do they know who your estate planning attorney is? Do they know how to get in touch with your CPA? Do they know who your financial advisor is and how to get in touch with them? Do you have a prepaid burial plan and if so do your loved ones know who it is with and how to get in touch with them? Make a list of all of the important contacts and how to get a hold of them.
- Update your asset list. The end of the year is a good time to sit down and do an internal audit of the assets that you own. Have things changed? Have you opened up new bank accounts? Have you closed old accounts down? Have you switched institutions where your assets are at? Have you sold any real estate or acquired new real estate? When you pass away one of the first things that will have to be dealt with are the assets. Make life easier for those you love by keeping an updated record of your assets and who they are currently with.
- Have a candid discussion with those you have put in charge of your estate plan. You do not need to go into detail about what it is you have and who is getting what, but it is a good idea to sit down with those that you have put in charge of your estate, should you become incapacitated or die, and talk to them about what their role is and some of the steps they need to take.
- Have a discussion with your loved ones about the personal property items in the home. These are the items that may not have a lot of monetary value but do have tremendous sentimental value to those you will leave behind. Who is going to get the jewelry, furniture, stamp collection, baseball card collection…? If your loved ones are not willing to help you decide who will get these items make the decision for them by making a list and describing who gets what.
- Finally, take the time this holiday season to write a personal letter to each of those people that you love and care about the most. Tell them you love them. Tell them you appreciate them. Tell them what your thoughts, hopes, wishes and dreams for them are. Seal this letter up in an envelope for each of your loved ones and put it in with your estate planning documents. This letter will be given to them upon your passing. This will be the most important thing you leave behind for those that you love. They will read that letter thousands of times and always have something to remember you by.
One of the hardest things, if not the hardest thing, to deal with in life is the loss of a loved one. Try to make their life easier by getting your affairs in order today.
Contributed by MH Arrowhead, Scottsdale and Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, David T. Eastman.
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.