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As an estate planning attorney, I’ve witnessed firsthand the peace of mind that comes from having a well-structured estate plan in place. With the beginning of a new year, many of us are assessing the past, and setting objectives for the year ahead. Now is the perfect time to take stock of your financial and personal affairs. Here are some things you may want to think about, and possibly tackle in conjunction with preparing your 2023 tax returns.

Review Your Estate Plan

Start by revisiting your estate plan, or creating one if you haven’t already. Your estate plan should likely include a will, revocable living trust, durable power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney. You may also need a deed transferring your real estate outside of probate. Review these documents to ensure they accurately reflect your current wishes. If you don’t have an estate plan or think you might need to make updates, consult with an attorney who specializes in this area.

Update Beneficiary Designations

Check your beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial assets. Make sure they are still in line with your wishes. Life changes, such as marriage, divorce, deaths, or births, may necessitate updates to these designations. Simply call your financial advisor or customer service for your financial institutions.

Organize Your Financial Documents

Gather and organize all your financial documents, including bank statements, investment account statements, deeds, and insurance policies. Having these documents readily available will make it easier for you or your loved ones in the event of an emergency or passing. Start with writing down a list off the top of your head, then slowly fill in account numbers, balances, beneficiary details and notes about the status of various accounts.

Create a Personal Inventory

Create an inventory of your significant personal assets, such as valuable possessions, collectibles, and sentimental items, and who you want to receive each item. Share this list with your loved ones so they are aware of your wishes for the distribution or preservation of these items.

Organize Digital Assets

Create a list of your online accounts and passwords and share this information with a trusted individual who can access your accounts if needed.

These are just a few of the things to consider to be well-prepared to tackle the challenges and opportunities that the upcoming year may bring. Remember that estate planning is an ongoing process, and regularly revisiting your plans will help ensure your wishes are met and your loved ones are taken care of. Contact our office to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to provide you with guidance on these issues in 2024.

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