In the midst of uncertainty it’s hard not to feel like things are out of control and everything is out of your hands. Our office has been inundated with questions from people asking what they can do NOW to protect their family and to get their affairs in order.
Get organized– Do you know exactly what bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and retirement accounts you have? It goes without saying that if YOU don’t know what or where your assets are, your family won’t either. Take some time to itemize your accounts and policies so you know exactly what you have on hand.
Name or update beneficiaries on your accounts– First and foremost you MUST have a beneficiary named on accounts not held in trust. But just as importantly, you should revisit your beneficiaries every few years to make sure they are consistent with your wishes. I’ll be honest, I had my parents listed as beneficiaries on an old retirement account that I had opened before I was married….and had children! Checking your beneficiaries (and that you have them) should be a bi-annual task.
Make your wishes known– If you do not have an estate plan in place you should, at the very least, let your loved ones know what your wishes are. Without a will or a trust the state will distribute assets per the laws of intestacy (in California community property would go to a spouse, if not a spouse to children, etc.) But even letting a loved one know what your wishes are related to medical issues and “Do Not Resuscitates” (DNRs) is a step in the right direction.
Review your Estate Plan– An estate plan should be compromised of a trust, pour over will, power of attorney, advanced health care directive and a HIPAA authorization form. We always advise our clients to review their estate planning documents at least every three years. As families move, grow and change so may your estate planning needs.
Start planning your EP– There are a plethora of reasons that everyone should have an estate plan. A comprehensive estate plan not only ensures your assets and family are protected, it can provide a host of protections and benefits to both, as well. We continue to create estate plans for California families. Our consultations are free and can be done over the phone or zoom video conferencing. We are available to answer any questions you may have about this information or your particular situation. Please call us today!
By: Holly Ratzlaff, Esq.