How to Get Your Estate Plan in Order in the New Year

by | Dec 14, 2020 | estate planning

get your estate plan in order

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to get started on your New Year’s resolution to finally get around to creating or updating your estate plans. This is an ideal time to reflect on the events of the previous year, such as family weddings, divorces, and births. If you have a current estate plan and you or your family have experienced any of these major life changes in the last year, it is a good idea to review your estate plan to ensure that any necessary changes are made as soon as possible.

If you are ready to create or make changes to a current estate plan, contact the attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver today. Our California estate planning attorneys have many years of experience helping their clients create estate plans that accomplish their goals for the future. Give our office a call today to schedule a consultation to meet with an attorney and get started with developing or updating your estate plan.

What to Do If You Do Not Have Any Estate Plans in Place

Many people do not yet have any estate plans in place. If you fall into this category, know that you are not alone. However, the best time to make one is now. You can use the new year as inspiration to get a handle on your family’s financial future.

The best way to get your estate plans in place is to meet with an estate planning attorney. Your estate planning attorney will help you review your finances and learn what you would like to accomplish with your estate plans. Then, they can help you create estate plans that are geared toward your individual needs to meet your financial goals.

Prior to meeting with your estate planning attorney, it can be helpful to review your financial accounts and gather any important documents relating to these accounts, as well as take inventory of any other assets. Having this information ready at your meeting with your attorney can help the process move along faster and help them to zero in on the best estate planning tools that you can use to plan for your future.

Updating Your Current Estate Plan

If you do already have an estate plan established, now is a good time to review it and make sure that any necessary changes are made. If your family has experienced the birth of a child or grandchild recently, or there was a marriage or divorce in the family, you may want to make some changes. With an estate plan update, you can include the new family members or exclude former family members in the event of a divorce.

 Important Estate Planning Documents to Consider

A will is typically considered one of the main forms of estate planning. For some people, a carefully crafted will may be all that they need for their estate plan. At a minimum, however, everyone should have a will in place. If you were to die without a will, then your estate will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy laws of California. Creating a will gives you control over who does and does not receive assets from your estate.

Another important estate planning tool is a Power of Attorney. When you execute a Power of Attorney, you give another individual the power to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. This is a useful estate planning tool to have, just in case something unexpected happens to you. 

Without a Power of Attorney in place, guardianship proceedings may move forward in court to have a guardian appointed to make the financial and medical decisions on behalf of someone who is incapacitated. In order to ensure that someone you trust will be the one making these decisions, it is wise to include a Power of Attorney in your estate planning process.

A living will (also referred to as an advance medical directive) can also be a useful addition to your estate plan. With a living will, a person can establish their preferences in advance regarding certain medical decisions—such as the initiation, continuation, or the withholding of extraordinary measures to prolong their life. This document can also contain details regarding your wishes for other end-of-life decisions. 

If you do not have a living will, then the court may appoint someone to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf. Creating a living will is the best way to ensure that someone you trust will be handling these decisions in the event you are unable to make these important decisions for yourself.

estate planning consultation