Spring Cleaning for Your Legal and Financial Affairs
Spring cleaning applies to financial affairs, too. A comprehensive review of your plans is critical to protect and secure your hard-earned assets.
Don’t bank on outdated wills and trusts
First, evaluate whether a will is still the best solution to handle your family’s needs. If so, ensure that your named executor is able to serve and that the beneficiaries are listed and distributions are made according to your wishes. Depending on your situation, a trust may offer an option to keep your personal affairs private. If you have a trust, make sure that your selected trustees and beneficiaries are still living and have the capacity to act and that your wishes for distribution are still the same. Consider the impact of ongoing and significant changes to the tax structure that can greatly impact your family’s finances.
Decide who wields the power
If you have taken the responsible step of appointing someone as your power of attorney (POA), take the time to review their ability to perform these duties. If you feel that your POA’s judgment may be compromised, contact an experienced elder law attorney who can help you make any changes necessary. The process of removing your old POA is called revocation and it must be thoroughly documented to be effective.
Having your financial and legal documents up to date is critical, but it will not matter if they cannot be found. Gather all paperwork related to wills, trusts, powers of attorney, Social Security and health insurance cards, military discharge records, property deeds, cemetery lot records, stock certificates, vehicle titles, bank statements, insurance policies and tax returns. Organizing these documents and making your family members aware of their location will mean that your loved ones will have the information they need to secure your assets. Working with legal, tax and investment advisers can help you avoid the pitfalls of taxes and probate court, making sure that your family can enjoy the benefits of your hard work when they need it most.
Dually certified by the National Elder Law Foundation as Certified Elder Law Attorneys and the Ohio State Bar Association as Specialists in the Area of Elder Law.