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  • Writer's pictureEvan Miller

New Year, New Plan: Integrating Estate Planning into Your Resolutions




As the New Year approaches, many of us are reflecting on the past and planning for the future. It's a time when resolutions are made, often focusing on health, finances, and personal growth. This year, consider adding estate planning to your list of resolutions. While it may not be as common as hitting the gym or saving money, estate planning is crucial for securing your legacy and ensuring your loved ones are cared for. Here's why making estate planning a part of your New Year's resolutions is a decision you won't regret.


The Importance of Estate Planning

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy or elderly; it's a vital process for anyone who wants to make their wishes known and protect their loved ones. It involves arranging how your assets will be preserved, managed, and distributed after your death or in the event you become incapacitated. Without a plan in place, state laws and courts could determine what happens to your assets and who cares for your children, which may not align with your wishes.


New Year's Resolutions for Estate Planning

  1. Create or Update Your Will: If you don't have a will, make this the year you create one. If you have one, review it to ensure it still reflects your current wishes and circumstances.

  2. Establish a Living Trust: Consider setting up a living trust to avoid probate, manage your assets during your lifetime, and ensure a smooth transition of your estate.

  3. Review Your Beneficiary Designations: Ensure your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets are up to date.

  4. Plan for Incapacity: Establish powers of attorney for healthcare and finances, so someone you trust can make decisions on your behalf if you're unable to.

  5. Protect Your Children: If you have minor children, name a guardian to care for them and set up a trust to manage any inheritance they may receive.

  6. Organize Your Documents: Gather all your important documents in one secure but accessible place and let your loved ones know where to find them.

  7. Discuss Your Wishes: Talk to your family about your estate plan and your wishes. While it may be a difficult conversation, it's important for avoiding confusion and conflict later.

  8. Consult a Professional: Estate planning can be complex, and laws vary by state. Consult an attorney to ensure your plan is valid and effective.


Making It Stick

Like any resolution, the key to success is turning intention into action. Here's how to keep your estate planning resolutions on track:

  1. Set Specific Goals: Rather than a vague resolution like "plan my estate," set specific, achievable goals, such as "meet with an estate planning attorney by February."

  2. Break It Down: Estate planning can seem overwhelming, so break it down into smaller, manageable tasks and tackle them one at a time.

  3. Schedule It: Set aside time in your calendar for estate planning tasks just as you would for any other important appointment.

  4. Seek Support: Share your resolutions with a friend or family member who can offer support and hold you accountable.


Conclusion

Making estate planning a part of your New Year's resolutions is a powerful step toward a secure and organized future. It's not just about protecting your assets; it's about providing for and protecting your loved ones. This year, resolve to take control of your legacy. Your future self, and your family, will thank you.

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