As many of us self-isolate now in and around video conferences, texts, emails, or telephone calls, this could be an opportune moment to review your estate plans (especially if that yellowed, Last Will and Testament gathered an inch of dust, and yes, it states your long-grown, years-away-from-living-with-you adult children should be placed under the guardianship of Aunt Martha and Uncle Herb).
Does your current plan (assuming you have a plan; most Americans sadly pass away without a plan) still reflect your wishes? Plans you made years ago likely need an update to reflect changed circumstances in life. Maybe your family has changed. Perhaps you’ve given more thought to leaving a charitable legacy for Summit, your church, or other worthy charitable causes. You need to update your Will or your Revocable Living Trust to reflect this desire to leave your legacy to serve others and support your family.
Next, this can be a beneficial time to check whether the status of your beneficiaries for your life insurance policies, your retirement accounts (IRA, 401k, e.g.), and bank/credit union/brokerage accounts is accurate for your current plan. Perhaps the information is fine to carry forth your wishes; but, maybe it isn’t or is incomplete. Identify individual and charitable beneficiaries with precise specificity so there cannot be doubt who or what is an intended beneficiary (and yes, those retirement accounts generally make great charitable giving vehicles for eligible charities because these pass to charities free of income tax). A simple call or email to your retirement account custodian, life insurance agent, or bank/credit union/brokerage can determine the status for the beneficiaries currently named or even missing.
For documents think in terms of the “Big Four”:
(1) a Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust Agreement
(2) a Durable Power of Attorney (for your financial/business concerns when you become incapacitated)
(3) a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions (similarly operative if you can no longer make decisions for yourself)
(4) a “Living Will” or “Advanced Directive” that clearly states your wishes for end-of-life medical treatment.
Should you need a referral to an attorney to assist with your plan, we’re here at Summit to help. You may wish to go forward and book an appointment with an estate planning attorney; in the meantime, many law offices will send you a comprehensive questionnaire now to complete regarding your assets, liabilities, and other information while you await a distance or later, a face-to-face appointment.
Finally, as people of faith, PRAY! This process is a great power now to touch the future well-being of your beneficiaries with your legacy plan. Seek God’s guidance that you may be instilled with His wisdom and counsel to meaningfully share the earthly resources entrusted to you.
May we each NOW make—and take—this time for good legacy planning!
We’re here to help during these challenging days and in the days ahead.
Contact Jeff W. Anderson, JD, LLM today to start the conversation (firstname.lastname@example.org).