Your estate plan is what helps take care of your family when you may no longer be able to because of infirmity or death. In addition, it is also what takes care of you when you no longer have the capacity to make decisions. There is no question that you need an estate plan in place – but that is only part of the challenge.
Many people put off starting on their estate plans for various reasons. The most common reason for delaying an estate plan is not wanting to think about their own mortality. Other people may not want to have tough conversations with their families, or they think that they have more time to address estate planning. If you haven’t – 2023 is the year to act on your estate plan. The attorneys at Arshakyan Law Firm can help you draft or revise your estate plan.
Start Working on Your Estate Plan This Year
First, if you do not have an estate plan, 2023 must be the year that you establish one. If you pass away or become incapacitated without an estate plan in place, your family will go through much more difficulty than they otherwise would have had you had an estate plan in place. They may not be able to make key decisions, and they would need to go through the court process to transfer your property to them. In the meantime, they would need to incur extra legal fees to compensate for the lack of an estate plan. Your first step should be to contact an experienced estate planning attorney to begin the process of establishing your estate plan.
Review Your Already Existing Estate Plan
If you already have an estate plan, you should take the time to review it if you have not checked in a while. Your beneficiary designations on your accounts are binding until they are changed, and your property could go to people who you no longer wish to receive it. Your will also remains binding until it is revoked or changed through a codicil. If your life circumstances have changed, your estate plan should also change to match them, and an attorney can help you execute the necessary changes to your documents.
In addition, you should also review your existing estate plan to ensure that it is comprehensive and covers your family in all possible circumstances. The documents that should be a part of your estate plan include the following:
- A last will and testament that leaves your property to your heirs and states your wishes for the guardian of your minor children and how they are to be raised
- Advance care directive that will state your wishes for your health care
- Medical powers of attorney that allow someone else to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able
- Financial power of attorney that allows someone else to make financial decisions on your behalf
- Beneficiary designations for your accounts, such as investment, insurance, banking, and retirement accounts
- Revocable or irrevocable living trusts that are part of your estate
Make Changes Based on Your Family and Financial Situations
Your financial situation may have changed in the past year in a way that could cause you to reevaluate how your estate plan works. For example, you may have a last will and testament to divide your property. However, with a will in place, your estate needs to go to probate. Trusts may provide more protection for your family members, and they can help your family avoid the probate process. For example, you may have a specific family member that needs to be cared for or a charity that you want to support.
Your own circumstances could necessitate that you change from a will to one or more trusts. You may have earned more money (even though a trust would be effective for any size estate), or a family member may now have a need for a trust to benefit them. However, it takes some work to establish a trust. You need to work through your situation and determine the type of trust that works best for you. In addition, you must select someone who you trust to serve as the trustee.
Resolve to Invest in Obtaining the Right Help
There are no shortcuts to both drafting and updating your estate plan. If you determine that any changes are necessary in the coming year, you should not attempt to do anything yourself and make changes to the documents on your own. For instance, you may try to amend your will and make things unclear. What appears on the actual document is what will control the distribution of your property, and a court may not ask what your actual intentions were. Similarly, you should not rely on template documents from the internet or a DIY service to update your will.
Review Changes to the Law with the Help of a Lawyer
In addition, Congress has also changed the rules for retirement savings as part of its latest appropriations bill. The new provisions of the law could impact both how you save for retirement and potentially your estate plan. If you are reviewing your estate plan and making necessary changes, you should consult an estate planning attorney to learn how new laws may affect you. Congress intended to make things easier for families to save for retirement, and that can help your estate planning.
Contact a Los Angeles County Estate Planning Attorney Today
Sitting down with an experienced attorney is the first step toward drafting or changing your estate plan. At the Arshakyan Law Firm, we help families like yours with your estate planning needs. We believe that individual attention to our clients helps you reach the most effective solutions that work for your family. To speak with one of our attorneys, you can send us a message online or call us today at (888) 851-5005. “This call is one you cannot afford not to make”?