Spring is the season of new beginnings and fresh starts and if you are like us, motivation to clean out your closets, declutter the house – and update your estate planning documents. While spring cleaning and estate planning may seem like unrelated tasks, they have more in common than you might think.
Just like the beginning stages of organizing and cleaning your home, you may find yourself overwhelmed by determining how to divide your personal items amongst loved ones. Making these decisions can be a daunting task, but it’s a necessary one. You won’t need to just determine who will inherit your valuable items, you will also need to identify who will receive items of sentimental value, like family heirlooms or photographs. While these items may not have any monetary value, they hold priceless memories that you will want to preserve for future generations.
Spring cleaning isn’t just for your possessions and tangible items. Think about ‘cleaning up’ important documents such as your will, trust, power of attorney and health care proxy. These documents outline your wishes for your estate and are essential in ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. However, if these documents are outdated or do not reflect your current wishes, they may need to be updated. And if you don’t have these legal documents in place, now is the time to consider working with an experienced estate planning attorney to develop them.
Estate planning allows you to decide who will inherit your belongings and how they will be divided. A will outlines who will inherit your assets, including your home, savings, and investments. You can also appoint a guardian for any minor children you may have. Creating a living will or advanced healthcare directive is also an important part of estate planning. These documents allow you to make decisions about your healthcare if you are unable to do so.
In addition to updating your will, trust, and power of attorney, it’s also important to review your beneficiary designations. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial assets typically require you to designate a beneficiary to receive the assets upon your death. If these designations are outdated or do not reflect your current preferences, your assets could be distributed to the wrong person.
Life is unpredictable, and circumstances can change quickly. If you’ve experienced a major life event such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, the purchase or sale of property or a disability, it may be necessary to update your documents to reflect these changes.
So, as you begin your spring cleaning this year and every year thereafter, take some time to review your estate planning documents and beneficiary designations. If you need to make updates or changes, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure that your documents are legally enforceable, reflect your current wishes and protect your family. By taking the time to assess and update your estate planning documents, you can rest easy knowing that your wishes will be carried out and that your legacy will live on.