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Make estate planning part of your new year resolution

This past holiday season, you may have had the opportunity to catch up and spend some time together with family, friends and loved ones.

As we roll into a new year, we remind you that it is a great time to re-evaluate your current estate plan (or draft your very first one) to protect your loved ones should something happen to you.

What if I don’t have an estate plan in place?  

Create your documents: 

Many people may put off creating a plan for their future during this busy start to the new year. After all, planning for you and your loved one’s future can feel overwhelming. Additionally, with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be difficult to think so far ahead.

However, as the years go by, you may find yourself in a position of wishing you had planned in advance.

Estate planning is one of the most important things someone (young or old) can do. It is also one of the easiest New Year’s resolutions to make – even if it is to simply begin the process.

This includes getting an up-to-date Will drafted which accurately reflects your wishes and accounts for your current circumstances.

This also includes getting an Enduring Power of Attorney in place, appointing someone as your attorney, to make financial and personal/health decisions on your behalf should lose capacity to make these decisions yourself.

What if I already have an estate plan in place?

Revise your documents: 

Once you have prepared your estate plan, it is easy to forget about it and move on.

However, this is a common oversight.

Unfortunately, relationships change, people change, asset structures change, and unexpected events happen in everyday life.

While you may want to avoid re-visiting your estate planning documents, you may want to use this time to re-evaluate your current estate plan and get things sorted before you get too far into the new year.

As your life changes, your estate plan should change too. For example, major life events like marriage, divorce, adoption, childbirth, and the death of a loved one are all reasons why you would need to update your estate plan.

Substantial changes to your estate often warrant a reconsideration of your plan, especially if there are large additions (or subtractions) of your assets.

Estate planning checklist

Below is a quick checklist to help you determine if an estate plan review may be needed: 

  • Bought or sold significant assets (including a business);
  • Changed your name, or anybody named in your Will changed theirs;
  • Received an inheritance;
  • Married, separated or divorced;
  • A birth, adoption or foster of a child;
  • Your children have grown up and started to get partners of their own;
  • Death of your executor, guardian or beneficiaries or a desire to change your executor, guardian or beneficiaries;
  • Desire to provide for new beneficiaries;
  • Acquired assets overseas;
  • Need to care or provide for a loved one with a disability

In any event, we encourage you to review your estate plan every two to three years so as to ensure your wishes are accurately reflected.

Ask the important questions

Finally, the holiday season may have offered you the chance to re-connect with family members and loved ones.

We recommend asking your loved ones the questions you need to know, such as:

  • Will they serve in the role you appointed them (e.g. as executor of your estate or guardian of your children)?
  • Are they comfortable taking on the responsibilities (or gifts) you leave them in your estate plan, should anything happen?

While you may be afraid that mentioning your estate plan or medical decisions, rest assured that this is one of the best things you can do for your family.

Even if the topics of death and incapacity can be awkward subjects to discuss, doing so, will allow you to make more assured decisions and give you the confidence that your estate will be dealt with in the manner that you intended. 

Should I seek estate planning advice?

When done right, planning can put your life and relationships into a much clearer focus.

Proper estate planning with a solicitor offers peace of mind in knowing that the people you love most will be protected and provided for, and any risks to your estate are minimised.  

If you are ready to follow through on your New Year’s resolutions and complete your estate planning, please contact us today to assist.

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The information provided in this article is for general information and educative purposes in summary form on legal topics which is current at the time it is published. The content does not constitute legal advice or recommendations and should not be relied upon as such. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, Wills, Estates and Probate Lawyers (WEP Lawyers) cannot accept responsibility for any errors, including those caused by negligence, in the material. We make no representations, statements or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information and you should not rely on it. You are advised to make your own independent inquiries regarding the accuracy of any information provided on this website. WEP Lawyers does not guarantee, and accepts no legal responsibility whatsoever arising from or in connection to the accuracy, reliability, currency, correctness or completeness of any material contained in this article. Links to third party websites or articles does not constitute any endorsement or approval of those sites or the owners of those sites. Nothing in this article should be construed as granting any licence or right for you to use that content. You should consult the third party’s terms and conditions of use in relation to any third-party content. WEP Lawyers disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including liability for negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur as a result of the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way. Appropriate legal advice should always be obtained in actual situations.

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Duncan MacDougall

Written by—

Duncan MacDougall

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