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An Annual Physical…For Your Estate Plan

An Annual Physical…For Your Estate Plan

Most people don’t hesitate to visit their doctor annually for a check-up. However, when it comes to updating their estate-planning documents, it’s like pulling teeth. They put off the appointment as long as possible. Does this sound like you?

If so, you should know it’s smart to review the provisions of your basic estate-planning documents every year or two to ensure they’re still in line with your wishes. Tax-law changes or a shift in personal circumstances such as a birth or death, divorce, change of residence, or financial change could warrant a review. Other circumstance—like a child going off to college or a special-needs child turning 18—are also events that warrant a trip to your trust and estate attorney to update or draft new documents.

The basic documents we believe that you should review, along with any beneficiary designations, are your Will, Power of Attorney, and Healthcare Directives:

Will: This document handles the distribution of your property at death (although certain assets may pass outside of your will) and names fiduciaries such as executors, trustees, and guardians.

Power of Attorney: This form appoints an agent to act on your behalf in a variety of financial and legal matters. A power of attorney is especially useful if you become incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently. During an annual review, you should check that your power of attorney is in place and that you’re still comfortable with the agent you designated.

Living Will and Health Care Proxy: Although powers of attorney are useful for financial and legal matters, they generally can’t convey medical decision-making authority. To authorize someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, you will need a living will and health care proxy. If you already have them, you should review these documents regularly to make sure they’re current and that the individuals you have named to act are still appropriate choices.

It isn’t just you who needs some of these forms: Your over-age-18 children may need them, too. Parents sending their children off to college for the first time may find out the hard way that confidentiality laws are creating challenges for parents if a child falls ill. As part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), doctors are prevented from speaking to parents of children over the age of 18 unless specifically directed by law or under certain circumstances. Although your children may not need wills yet, they should have durable powers of attorney and healthcare proxies that allow you to act on their behalf.

This advice applies to adult children, too. Does your single 30-year-old daughter working in San Francisco have documents naming someone to act on her behalf in case of an emergency? Of course, you hope you’ll never need to worry about this possibility. However, having these documents available could save you valuable time and the cost of having to obtain court approval in order to act.

Finally, keep document accessibility in mind. The individuals you have named to act on your behalf should have copies of these key forms, or know how to access them in an emergency. They should not be stored in your safe deposit box, in case the bank is closed when your representative needs access to the forms. Your attorney or Wealth Advisor can always discuss safe storage options with you, or help

you determine when document updates are needed. Is it time to schedule this important annual checkup?

 

 

Important Disclosure Information 

Please remember to contact RegentAtlantic if there are any changes in your personal or financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing our previous recommendations and services, or if you wish to impose, add, or modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment management services. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for your review upon request. This article is not a substitute for personalized advice from RegentAtlantic. This information is current only as of the date on which it was sent. The statements and opinions expressed are, however, subject to change without notice based on market and other conditions and may differ from opinions expressed in other businesses and activities of RegentAtlantic. Descriptions of RegentAtlantic’s process and strategies are based on general practice and we may make exceptions in specific cases. 

Please remember that RegentAtlantic that RegentAtlantic does provide legal advice or prepare legal documents. Please consult with an estate planning attorney of your choice prior to implementing any estate planning strategy discussed in this article.

Important disclosure information

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, including the loss of money invested. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Therefore, it should not be assumed that future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy, including the investments or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by RegentAtlantic Capital, LLC (“RegentAtlantic”) will be profitable.

Please remember to contact RegentAtlantic if there are any changes in your personal or financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing our previous recommendations and services, or if you wish to impose, add, or modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment management services. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for your review upon request.

This article is not a substitute for personalized advice from RegentAtlantic. This article is current only as of the date on which it was sent. The statements and opinions expressed are, however, subject to change without notice based on market and other conditions and may differ from opinions expressed in other businesses and activities of RegentAtlantic. Descriptions of RegentAtlantic’s process and strategies are based on general practice and we may make exceptions in specific cases.

RegentAtlantic does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult with a legal and or tax professional of your choosing prior to implementing any of the strategies discussed in this article.

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