New Year’s resolutions are about planning your future and many of us view them as pathways to self-improvement — to lose weight, exercise more, spend less on frivolous items, respond to emails more promptly. Beyond that, we often conceive of New Year’s resolutions as a means of tackling things we’ve been putting off — cleaning the basement or garage, talking to our spouses about money matters, decluttering the closets, calling a difficult relative. For most of us, estate planning falls into the latter category: a necessary, but somewhat unpleasant task that is time-consuming and forces us to face things we’d rather avoid thinking about.
Below are some important reasons estate planning should be on your list of resolutions. Engaging the services of an effective, caring estate planning attorney can make the process go much more smoothly and painlessly than you may fear. An experienced professional will have the insight and well-honed skills necessary to make organizing your estate plan a breeze. More than that, once the task is completed, you will feel the pride that comes from taking control of your life and protecting your loved ones. If you reside in Southeastern Massachusetts, Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is the firm to call.
Things to Remember Before You Begin Planning Your Estate
Don’t be misled by the popular misconception that estate planning is only for the wealthy. You need not have a mansion or a collection of antique cars to require a clear, legally binding estate plan. If any of the situations below describe your situation, you need the appropriate papers drawn up by a qualified legal representative:
- You have any assets you want to pass on to particular beneficiaries
- You have young children, adult dependents, or pets you want cared for in your absence
- You have definite ideas about how your affairs should be handled if you become incapacitated
- You have particular steps you want taken during your end-of-life care or relative to your funeral, memorial, or remains
- You have one or more charities, causes, or educational institutions you want to support
- You have a business you want to pass on or have sold at the time of your death
- You have concerns that your family members may argue or become resentful if they don’t feel equally provided for when you pass away
Remember, too, that whether you are young and hearty or elderly and in poor health, none of us knows what the time of our death will be. This is why it’s essential to have an estate plan in place early on. It can always be altered as your life circumstances change to meet the changing needs of yourself and your loved ones.
Specifics Your Estate Plan Will Address in the New Year and Going Forward
Once you consult with our experienced estate planning attorney, she or he will ask you pertinent questions concerning your assets, your family structure, and your personal goals. Your answers will help us understand which documents will be best for you. Will will then craft, review, and implement:
Your will (last will and testament) to:
- Designate your beneficiaries
- Name your personal representative (executor)
- Name a guardian for your young children
- State your wishes regarding whether you want your remains buried or cremated
- State whether you want to donate your organs or tissues
Various types of trusts that will serve particular purposes, such as:
- Protecting your assets from excessive taxation and creditors
- Avoiding probate
- Preventing special needs beneficiaries from losing government benefits
- Providing for a pet left behind
- Protecting the finances of a spendthrift beneficiary
Incapacity/end-of-life documents to ensure that your stated wishes will be followed if you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself regarding decisions concerning your financial affairs and your health. These documents include:
- Health Care Proxy
- Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Living Will
The Most Important Reason to Make and Keep Your Estate Planning Resolution
Making an appointment for a virtual consultation with Surprenant & Beneski will ensure that you are working with an estate planning attorney who knows the strategies that keep families in harmony. We will help you to protect your assets so that you will have a comfortable retirement and leave your loved ones secure. More than that, by advising careful decision-making and precise wording on all documents, our caring attorneys will help prevent bickering or estrangement among those you love.
©Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. 35 Arnold Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, 336 South Street, Hyannis MA 02601 and 45 Bristol Drive, Easton MA 02375. This article is for illustration purposes only. This handout does not constitute legal advice. There is no attorney/client relationship created with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. by this article. DO NOT make decisions based upon information in this handout. Every family is unique and legal advice can only be given after an individual consultation with an elder law attorney. Any decisions made without proper legal advice may cause significant legal and financial problems.