New Year’s House Keeping

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It is the beginning of a brand new year.  Many of us have set New Year’s resolutions for 2018.  January also is a good time to take stock of your estate plan.  We recommend that you review your estate plan annually.  In the course of your review, we suggest that you consider the following documents:

Will or Revocable Living Trust.  The terms of your will or revocable living trust dictate how your property will be distributed at death.  You should review the distribution provisions to confirm that they still are what you want.  You also should review whom you have named to serve as personal representative in your will or successor trustee in your trust.  Are these individuals still willing and able to serve if called upon to do so? Lastly, if you have a trust, you should check to be sure that your assets have been transferred into the name of the trust.  In general, only assets titled in the name of your trust will avoid probate when you die.

Beneficiary Designations.  You should review beneficiary designations on any life insurance, annuities, IRA’s, and other retirement assets that you own.  The designations should be coordinated with the distribution provisions in your will or trust.

Durable Power of Attorney.  Your durable power of attorney is an important estate planning document.  In this document you name an agent to stand in your shoes and make all financial decisions for you if you become unable to manage your finances.  If you do not have a durable power of attorney, your family may have to petition the court to have a judge name a conservator to manage your financial affairs.  You should review your choice of agent.  Additionally, we recommend that you sign a new durable power of attorney ever year so that you have a current document.

Advance Directive.  The Advance Directive permits you to name a health care representative to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to speak for yourself.  You may also decide whether or not you want to receive life support and tube feeding if you are close to death.  You should review your choices in this document and discuss any questions that you might have with your physician.

Note: This article is not intended to provide legal advice; you should contact your estate planning attorney to assist you with reviewing your plan and making any required updates. 

Contact Melinda Leaver Roy for more information.

693 Chemeketa Street NE  Salem, Oregon 97301
(503) 364-2281