10 Things to Do This Year for Probate

It is still relatively early in the calendar year, but before New Year's Eve is upon us, there are some things that you should do in the area of estate planning. First of all, it is important that you get your estate planning completely done. In order to do this, you will need an attorney to assist you. If you have never created an estate plan, it is important that you stop procrastinating. It is never certain when you may pass away, so it is best for you to create a plan now and be better safe than sorry.

If you are not sure who you want to name as your guardian or your executor, then you need to talk to an attorney to get an informed opinion. If money is an issue in your ability to create an estate plan, you should work with what you can afford for now and then you can always upgrade your plan in the future if it is necessary.

If you already have an estate plan, then you need to take the time to review or update your existing estate plan. You need to update your will whenever there is a significant chance in your personal or financial circumstances. For example, if you have another child, have a grandchild, divorce from your spouse, have a death in the family, have a change in financial circumstances, or if your trustee or executor can no longer serve then you need to revise your will.

Also, if you are able to then you may want to use your exemption to grant gifts to year heirs. This is a gift tax that will allow you to give a certain amount of money to your children or heirs without having to pay any taxes on this amount. You don't have to pass away to use this exemption, so if you have a family member who is struggling or want to contribute a significant financial gift to a loved one, use your exemption to do so this year. As well, this year you will want to make tax-free gifts that are provided under the federal law. You can give thousands of dollars to your loved ones under the provisions in the laws, and can make unlimited charitable gifts if you want to do so.

In addition, make sure to secure and update any health care documents that you have. You will want to make sure to create a Durable Power of Attorney if you do not have one as this can give another person the right to make legal decisions on your behalf if you pass away. You will want to make sure that you have HIPPA Authorizations in place, which give written consent to doctors to discuss your medical situation with others should you be in a serious condition. You may also want to create a Revocable Living Trust that will prevent the court from controlling your assets if you should become incapacitated.

It is also important that you review or update your guardian for minor kids form. This is the firm that will provide a caretaker for your children should you pass away or become incapacitated. You will want to review your choice every once and while to make sure that the guardian is still in good health to take on the responsibility of your children. Also, you will want to list a second and third back-up guardian in case your first choice cannot serve. If you don't name a guardian, then the court will have the right to determine who can take care of your children.

Update you insurance this year by checking the amount of life insurance coverage and making sure that it meets your family's current needs. You may wan to get long-term care insurance that will help pay the costs of this king of care in the event that you should need this benefit. Also, you will need to review and update your beneficiary designations to make sure that your beneficiary is in a good place to receive whatever finances you plant to grant him or her. If your beneficiary has died or divorced, you may want to select a new beneficiary to take his or her place. You will want to make sure that the beneficiary is not receiving SSDI, as this could be discontinued unless you set up the money in a special needs trust.

You should also make sure to talk to your children about your estate plan this year so that you can give them information that they may need to plan. Explain how your estate is divided, so that this is not a surprise in the event that you should pass away. You can also talk about the values and opportunities that money will provide for your children and advise them as to how they should spend their finances wisely.

Lastly, it may be in your best interests to get basic documents written up for any unmarried children that are over 18. Your children can never start planning too early once they become legal adults. You will want to make sure that your children have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, a HIPPA Authorization, a Simple Will, and a Durable Power of Attorney. If you want more information about estate planning or need a professional to help you complete these tasks talk to a probate professional today!