The Truth About Estate Planning: It’s an Ongoing Process
The truth about Estate Planning is that most plans do not work. Many people have a Will and a Power of Attorney and think they have done proper Estate Planning. Perhaps that will work, but all too often it doesn't.
Life Situations Change
Estate Planning is an on-going process, not a transaction. It involves proper titling to assets. Many plans are unsuccessful because of improper ownership of assets, with the most common being having assets owned in joint names. Almost as common, is an improper beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy, IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or annuity. Many people plan for distributing these assets by checking a box on a beneficiary designation form. Often the wrong beneficiary is chosen. It’s possible that the beneficiary you selected while your child was a minor, you were married, or before your spouse went into a nursing home, may no longer be the best choice.
Any time there is a change in your family situation, the value of your assets, or the law, it is time to review your estate plan to make sure it works. Recent stock market swings and changes in the estate tax laws mean that any estate plan that is more than five (5) years old is out of date. What about all those cute grandchildren? Have you provided for them?
Your estate plan should also include planning for your incapacity. Any Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy that has not been updated to comply with the new HIPAA privacy rules may not work. While you are alive and healthy, you should leave a set of detailed instructions setting forth who should determine if you are incapacitated, who should manage your money if you are incapacitated, and how your money should be spent. Would you rather to go into a nursing home, or would you prefer to stay in your own home as long as possible? A simple Power of Attorney may not give you the peace of mind that your wishes will be followed and that your estate plan will work. That’s why you should ask about Living Trusts.
To find out more about how you can make sure your estate plan is working for you and your current life situation, turn to Ronald J. Axelrod, Estate Planning Attorney in Rochester, NY. Learn more by visiting our website at www.ronaxelrod.com or call us to schedule an Estate Planning meeting at (585) 203-1020.