An estate plan refers to a comprehensive set of legal documents that are designed to address how your estate is to be managed when you are no longer able to make decisions, either as a result of an incapacitating illness or death. While creating an estate plan requires thinking about one’s own mortality – and is therefore something that many put off doing – creating an estate plan is of critical importance.
When you meet with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer, your attorney will guide you through the various elements of an estate plan. As you embark on the process, consider the following about what not to neglect in your estate plan–
Outdated Beneficiary Designations
When you create an estate plan, you will designate various beneficiaries whom you wish to benefit from your property and assets when you die, such as your spouse, children, charities, or other family members.
At the time that you create your estate plan, there may be certain beneficiaries whom you wish to name in a will, trust, life insurance policy, financial accounts, and more. However, this may change over time depending on your relationship with family members, whether you divorce or remarry, if you have more children, and various other circumstances. If you fail to update your outdated beneficiary designations and something happens to you, what is in writing will hold true, despite your current wishes. Meeting with your estate planning lawyer on a regular basis, especially if you have experienced a life change, is a must.
Failing to Update Your Plan
Updating your plan doesn’t just mean updating your outdated beneficiary designations; you will also need to update the types of estate planning documents you have, your guardianship decisions for any minor children, and your list of assets and debts. In addition, you should also update your powers of attorney designations if appropriate; for example, if you have your spouse named as your healthcare and financial power of attorney and your spouse dies or you separate, your current powers of attorney would no longer be relevant and appropriate.
All of the Basic Estate Planning Documents
Don’t neglect to ensure that your estate plan consists of all of the basic estate planning documents (working with a skilled attorney is one way to guarantee that you’re not overlooking anything important). Types of estate planning documents that your estate plan should address, at the bare minimum, include:
- Last will and testament;
- Health Care Proxy with living will/advanced directives;
- Powers of attorney; and
- Guardianship designations, if you have minor children.
Specialized Documents Based on Your Needs
Depending on your preferences and the specifics of your finances and your situation, you may also want to create some specialized estate planning documents. For example, creating a trust may be appropriate, as may creating a specific plan for what will happen to your business when you are no longer able to run it yourself. Talk to your attorney about your situation and the specific types of estate planning documents that can serve you.
Consult with Patricia Bloom-McDonald, Attorney at Law, Today
If you haven’t already taken steps to create an estate plan, or if your estate plan needs to be updated, schedule a consultation with Patricia Bloom-McDonald, Attorney at Law, today. Patricia Bloom-McDonald has over 20 years of legal experience serving clients throughout Massachusetts, and can provide you with the qualified, quality legal advice you need.