Getting Your Estate Plan Up to Date for the New Year

This past year was one full of changes, fluctuating restrictions and continuous health scares. While the New Year is a time for a fresh start, it is also a time to reflect on years past, and how you can make proactive choices for the future. While no person enjoys the process of estate planning, it is necessary if you want to provide your loved ones with clear instructions on your health, finances and assets in the event you become incapacitated. Ensuring that your estate plan encompasses all areas needed for the wellbeing of yourself and your loved ones is best done with the help of a qualified estate planning attorney, such as Douglas C. Lauenstein. Here, our team discusses tips and practical applications to get your estate plan up-to-date as we begin the new year. 

Gather Important Physical and Digital Documents Needed

At the beginning of your estate planning process, the first step is gathering all of the information you, your professional counsel and your loved ones may need to create a comprehensive estate plan. While many people traditionally focus on physical documents such as assets, certificates and documentation for their children, modern days have led to an increase in digital storage. When creating your estate plan, be sure to include important digital documents that may be password protected or stored on personal computers. By gathering these documents prior to or soon after speaking with professional counsel, such as estate planning attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein, you will be able to streamline the estate planning process, helping you and your loved ones feel protected and confident. No document is too small to include, and each estate plan is unique to the individual and their family. Preparing early and speaking with knowledgeable professionals can be a fantastic way to start this new year off strong.

Create an Advance Medical Directive (Living Will) and Financial Power of Attorney

For many of us, the thought of building an estate plan brings dismal thoughts to mind. Not being able to be there for your children or close loved ones can be a disheartening feeling, which is why estate planning early is so important. If you are in the beginning stages of the estate planning process, consider creating an Advance Medical Directive.  In Maryland, a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney are included in a document called an Advance Medical Directive.  An Advance Medical Directive is a legal document that outlines exactly what your medical preferences are in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself, including medical decisions such as pain management and organ donation. In the Advance Medical Directive, you may also appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if you are incapable of making decisions in the future. This helps ensure that your medical decisions are carried out exactly as you wish and that your loved ones are not struggling to make a decision in a highly emotional and stressful situation. 

Additionally, designating an agent to take care of your finances is vital to a successful estate plan. In the event that you are unable to properly manage your finances, it is important to establish a financial power of attorney to make these decisions on your behalf. If you are a business owner, discussing your plan with stakeholders before finalizing a power of attorney can help your business stay abreast of changes and be prepared in the event of your passing or incapacitation.  

Research Asset Delegation, and Beneficiary Forms

After gathering documents and discussing who you will delegate to handle your healthcare and finance decisions, you can begin researching and implementing specific estate planning needs. One of the best ways to begin this is by filing the appropriate beneficiary forms to help your family avoid probate. Probate is the legal process of administering a person’s estate plan after their death and this can become a timely process. Finally, consider planning for your children’s wellbeing if applicable. This can include purchasing life insurance if you have children who are minors or have extensive debts, as well as setting money aside for funeral expenses beforehand. This will be extremely helpful for your children and loved ones in the event of your passing, allowing them to move forward without struggling financially in the midst of their grieving.  

Discuss Your Estate Options With Attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein 

As we leave this tumultuous year behind us and begin a new one, allotting time to buff up or create your estate plan is a worthwhile initiative. While the estate planning process is never one to look forward to, our team works with you to strategize and compile an estate plan that is both comprehensive and catered to your individualized needs. With decades of experience, Harford County estate planning attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein is here to advocate for you and your loved ones as you navigate this complex process. To see how we can assist you, contact us today by clicking here:

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