Over the January 23–24, 2016 weekend, a massive blizzard hit the Mid-Atlantic region, with nearly three feet of snow accumulating in some areas. If you’re reading this, chances are you are more than aware of the impact of this snowstorm: power outages, school closings, and transportation delays have affected people up and down the East Coast. What you may not have considered, however, is how and why this is the perfect opportunity to get some of your most important legal affairs in order. Indeed, events like these not only remind us to be prepared, but provide us with the space necessary to consider complex life decisions. As challenging as the past few days have been—with shoveling and caring for school-aged children stuck at home—you’ve likely had some (perhaps unexpected) downtime. The attorneys at Offit Kurman recommend that you use this time to reflect and think about your estate planning documents, such as your will, power of attorney, and advanced medical directive.
Whether you already have a will or have yet to create one, now is a good time to contemplate your objectives in the event of your death. Think about your assets—including personal property and business investments—and determine who you would like these assets to go to upon your death and how it should be distributed (such as in a trust). Is there a new child or grandchild in the family? Have you or a relative recently gotten married or divorced? Do you have charitable intentions? These factors may dramatically change the structure of an existing will.
Advance Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney
Who do you want making medical decisions for you if you cannot? How do you want decisions made regarding your care and end-of-life care? Who will pay your bills if you are ill and unable to? Most of us would rather not think about these questions, but neglecting to do so can cause unintended consequences, such as a public guardianship proceeding.
Elder care is another topic that deserves your thoughts: Are you going to be responsible for the long term care of your parents or other, older relatives? How will you pay for their care? Assisted living costs are only one component of this topic.
Other Existing Plans and Documents
When was the last time you reviewed your life insurance coverage? Is the beneficiary designation for your life insurance and/or retirement plan up to date? Have your estate planning documents been reviewed by a qualified estate planning attorney in the past 3 years? In the normal pace of our everyday lives, we don’t normally get a chance to carefully consider these crucial affairs. Maybe, while killing time at the airport or sitting at home, waiting for the plow to come by, you just might have the opportunity to at least think about some of these issues. Have a question about this subject, or need some guidance? Contact your estate planning attorney to discuss these questions and up.
About Diane S. Kotkin
As an estate planning attorney, Diane S. Kotkin concentrates her law practice in the areas of estate planning and estate and trust administration. Ms. Kotkin has represented several personal representatives and trustees in all phases of the trust and estate administration process. These processes include the preparation of complex estate and fiduciary tax returns and the use of disclaimers and complicated post-mortem tax planning. She also provides comprehensive estate planning by adeptly tailoring individual estate plans to ease the transmission of personal wealth and to achieve personal and philanthropic goals.