McDonald Warner - Probate, Elder Law, & Special Needs

Estate planning resolutions to consider during the new year

Some people in Arizona are fairly non-nonchalant about their resolutions for a new year. After all, it's often easy for individuals with good intentions to justify not being able to commit to daily gym visits beyond the first month of the year or not sticking to a diet that ends up being too restrictive. But a resolution that could have a long-term impact for anyone wishing to pass along certain assets to heirs or make important decisions in advance is a commitment to make estate planning a priority during the new year.

At the very least, it's typically advised that individuals over eighteen have a will. It's a document that allows a person to dictate who gets what while also naming a preferred guardian for any children they may have. A power of attorney, which can be specific to financial matters, is an additional document that may come in handy should a living individual become incapacitated and need someone they can trust to make important decisions.

With a health care proxy, proactive individuals can make their wishes known ahead of time should they be unable to do so for themselves at some point. Purchasing life insurance can make life easier for loved ones left behind, especially when there's a need for immediate cash for final expenses. It's also advised that beneficiary designations on retirement, insurance, and investment documents be made and kept up to date. Long-term care and disability insurance may be a wise purchase as well, particularly for older individuals who may need help paying for home or nursing care in the future.

Since the estate planning process is different for everyone, it may be beneficial for individuals looking to make such plans during the new year to consult with an attorney. In addition to preparing the necessary documents to set up trusts, prepare a power of attorney, or draft a will, a lawyer might inventory assets. This process alone may help avoid confusion and legal squabbles over ownership of real estate holdings, digital assets, intellectual and business property, and other assets when an individual passes.

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