The start of a new year is a great time to review existing estate plans or to develop a plan in the first place. A few steps to get you on the right track include:
MAKE SURE YOU’RE NOT MAKING ANY OUTRIGHT GIFTS TO MINORS.
Texas statutes are clear: individuals under 18 may not inherit. Outright gifts to minors require the involvement and approval of the Probate Court, which is unnecessarily expensive and time-consuming. Instead, consider a living trust or building some trust provisions into your will to make sure your children are protected.
UPDATE YOUR BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS.
This is particularly important if 2019 included a birth, death, or divorce in your family. Wills and living trusts do not control the distribution of retirement accounts, life insurance policies, or any assets that include a beneficiary designation. For instance, if you updated your will to remove your former spouse but did not remove him as a beneficiary on your life insurance, he will still be entitled to a payout that you probably wished went to someone else.
THINK ABOUT YOUR HEALTHCARE CHOICES.
As people get older, it is not uncommon for their healthcare preferences to change. Perhaps, too, the people you want making healthcare decisions for you might change. Have family relationships changed? Are your children now adults and capable of serving as your agent for healthcare decisions?
Additionally, consider how you might pay for long-term care if it is ever needed. (The average cost of skilled nursing care in this area is over $5,000/month).
These are certainly not the only decisions necessary to put a comprehensive plan in place, but they are a great start. Resolve to make 2020 the year that you give your loved ones – and yourself – the gift of peace of mind.