Estate Planning is a Process

May 20, 2009 — 1,330 views  
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Many clients do their planning at year end, which is not necessarily the best timing. Planning should carry through the entire year. Now that tax day has passed, it's as good a time as any to review and update your estate plan. Like your annual physical, it is wise to also have a legal checkup. The following are a few areas that should be considered, although they may not all be appropriate for everybody:

Update Your Estate Plan

Are your Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and Will up to date? Are the individuals named within the documents still appropriate to serve as well as receive your assets? Are they healthy? Are their marriages also healthy? If not, perhaps your documents need to be reviewed to provide for preservation of assets for the beneficiaries so they don't become their liabilities.

Plan For Retirement

Is it time for you to consider when you should collect Social Security? Have economic changes made it necessary for you to work longer but possibly still take Social Security benefits sooner? Is your health insurance in order, or do you need to purchase some other plan, such as a Medigap policy, to ensure you have the coverage you need until you're able to obtain Medicare benefits? Naturally, if you are in your 20s through 40s, these issues seem way too remote to consider, but other issues should be considered such as saving for retirement and to attending to a child's education expenses. In fact, if you are relatively young, perhaps you are worried about paying off your own college expenses.

Consider Long-Term Care Insurance

Most seniors are concerned about having their assets spent on long-term care expenses in the event they need institutionalized care or require 24/7 home care. A long-term care policy can help if you're qualified to obtain the coverage and can afford it. If you can't afford it, an elder law attorney can present alternatives, like using a reverse mortgage or having children share the cost, etc. It is an option that should not be overlooked, but it must be reviewed to determine whether it is an option for the client or not.

As with all life plans, just because documents are signed, does not mean the plan is good forever. It should be reviewed and revised as laws, finances, and family dynamics change.

by: Hyman G. Darling, Esq.