Estate planning needs to change over your lifetime (believe it or not, it is not a “one and done” thing). When you are in your twenties and working your first job, you might worry only about which beneficiaries to list on your first retirement account. By your thirties and forties, you are focused on accumulating assets and protecting your family. By the time you reach your eighties (or older), the majority of your estate planning may already be taken care of. However, if you want to ensure all of your bases are covered, keep these estate planning tips as you age beyond your forties and fifties in mind:
Any significant life change can warrant an update to your existing estate documents. For example, the birth of grandchildren may impact your beneficiary designations, or a divorce will require you to update your agent you appointed for power of attorney (and even distribution of assets). More importantly, when a spouse passes away, things change yet again with new designations, appointment of agents, and asset distribution. Essentially, any time a major life event occurs, it is always a good idea to give an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney a call to determine which changes will best suit your new vision for your family and loved ones.
It is true when they say “you can’t take it with you.” Many people opt to donate to charities they are passionate about to help their loved ones avoid paying expensive estate taxes at the time of their passing. You can give to your favorite organization during your lifetime, or arrange for a donation to be made when you pass away. Knowing that there are special charitable trusts you can set up to payout to your favorite cause while also preserving assets for your beneficiaries is also important. Having a vision of how you want to handle your charitable giving is best when discussed with an estate planning attorney so you rest assured that the correct kind of charitable trust is set up for you, your loved ones, and the organization you choose to donate to.
If you have not already done so, spend some time considering who you would like to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. The person you appoint to serve as your agent under your medical power of attorney – also sometimes referred to as a healthcare surrogate – is a power of attorney that covers medical treatments and decisions. As we age, this designation becomes increasingly important. Regardless of who you designate, be sure to document your preferences for your end-of-life treatment and care by establishing your healthcare and medical advance directives to spare your family from having to make difficult decisions.
Life changes fast, and often unexpectedly. If you need assistance reviewing your current estate plan, updating or maintaining it as life events occur, or establishing a new estate plan, give us a call at (281) 885-8826 or schedule an appointment to meet with an experienced member of our team today to discuss the options that are available to best suit your goals. After all, it is the best way to protect the best interests of your loved ones for the long term.
Hegwood Law Group