As experienced estate planning attorneys, we tend to get a lot of calls in January from people seeking guidance after a stressful holiday season. As clients return home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, they notice how the past year has affected their parents, grandparents, and family members—and they worry what the next year will bring if someone’s affairs are not in order.
Reasons to Schedule an Estate Planning Meeting After the Holidays
Holiday gatherings are a great time to catch up on what’s been happening in our friends’ and family’s lives. Whether these life events are for better or worse, some updates may act as a red flag to make changes to estate planning documents.
For instance, you may want to consider the impact on your (or your parents’) estate plan if one of your family members has:
- Developed health problems. The day will come when the adults in your life become seniors, causing you to worry about your parents and grandparents as they continue to age. Your father may be showing signs of early dementia, your mother may have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or their health has declined to the point where they both need to enter a nursing facility. The best way to make these transitions go smoothly is to prepare for incapacity before it happens. We can help you designate powers of attorney, create a Medicaid trust, name a health care proxy, and create a living will while your loved one is still able to make these decisions.
- Come of age. Nieces, nephews, and grandkids grow up fast, and suddenly they’re graduating from high school and starting their adult lives. You may want to consider whether younger relations should inherit outright, benefit from a trust, or even serve as executors or guardians in the new draft of your will.
- Had a baby. A new addition to the family raises questions for both the child’s parents and grandparents. If the child is adopted or is a step-child, does the language of the will protect or prevent their inheritance? Who should be named as guardian if something should happen to the child’s parents?
- Gotten married or divorced. Marriage may be cause for celebration, but it’s also cause for caution when making an estate plan. There’s at least a 50% chance that your child’s marriage will end in divorce, giving their ex-spouse grounds to claim a portion of your child’s inheritance in their property settlement. If you or a relative has already started divorce proceedings, you should update the designations in your estate plan immediately after the divorce is final.
- Started a business. A new venture could improve your family’s fortunes, but it also comes with risks. For example, your personal funds could be at risk if someone files a lawsuit against your company. On the other hand, one of your beneficiaries could take more than their fair share of inheritance to prop up a struggling business. A trust could be the best way to protect your heirs from court judgments and unfair dealings.
- Passed away. If you lost someone who is named in your will over the past year, you may have to appoint a new executor or consider where that person’s portion of inheritance will go.
- Demonstrated questionable judgment. We don’t need to agree with all of our relatives’ choices to love and respect them. However, there are some behaviors that signal disaster for a person’s financial future—such as an addiction or out-of-control spending habits. If someone is in financial trouble or keeps asking about your parents’ valuable assets, this should be taken into consideration in the estate plan.
Let Us Help You Protect Your Family
Whether you need help with Medicaid planning, need to establish a guardianship, or just want to cross a New Year’s resolution off your list, we can help you create an estate plan that accomplishes all of your goals. Contact Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group, P.C. today through our online form to learn how we can be of assistance.