Brought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman
Many of us are so ready to put 2020 behind us, but perhaps we need to take one more look at what happened in 2020 that may require updates to our legal affairs in 2021. Here are four things to consider.
1. Health. Even if you have avoided getting COVID-19, it may have impacted your estate team of executor, backup executor, healthcare or financial power of attorney, beneficiaries on various accounts, or your heirs. Give your plans a review to make sure updates are not needed.
2. Family Changes. Any new grandchildren or in-laws or… on the flip side, any divorces or deaths? Make sure your estate plan can handle these changes. And remember to check all your beneficiaries since many account beneficiary designations will over-ride what you specify in your Will. If your children have become legal adults, any clauses about guardians will not apply but do not require an update to your will.
3. Financial Ups and Downs. Perhaps your 2020 travel budget that you didn’t get to use should be reallocated to your charitable giving. If you have a new job, make sure any beneficiary designations for life insurance and 401Ks are aligned with your estate plans. We often see clients set up wills that distribute assets equally among their children, and then find bank accounts, 401Ks, IRAs, investment accounts, deeds to real estate with beneficiaries that totally skew asset distributions into very unequal amounts. If you were laid off, you may need to meet with your CPA to make sure you report unemployment payments, stimulus checks, and IRA withdrawals accurately for your tax planning based on your new tax bracket.
4. Organization. Whether your cleaning frenzy hits before holiday guests arrive or after all the presents are opened, take the time to make sure that the documentation for your affairs is well organized so that your powers of attorney and executor can find what they need easily. For example, don’t put your will in a bank deposit box unless your executor has access. Actually, we would advise for your executor to have a file for your estate including your other contacts in his/her possession well in advance of need.
Now you are ready to ring out 2020 and have a great fresh start for the new year of 2021!
-Melanie B. Holliman, JD
Partner at Bradford & Holliman
Estate Planning, Trusts & Special Needs
No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.
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