By ROB HAZARD
As we settle into 2017, the time has finally come to get started on a few New Year’s resolutions.
Every year, we can quickly come up with a list of areas in our lives that need improvement. However, achieving those goals can sometimes prove to be a less than simple task.
One way to get a jump start on making a change is by creating an up-to- date estate plan. Here are some common New Year’s resolutions and how estate planning can be used to your advantage to help achieve them:
1. Learn something new. There is always something new to be learned by sitting down with your loved ones and discussing the future. Perhaps the “new” thing is promoting honest communication with your family and friends. Maybe it’s more about finding out what kind of legacy you want to leave. Learning something new does not have to entail extreme sports or a new hobby; sometimes all it takes is taking a moment to listen.
2. Get organized. Consulting an experienced attorney about preparing a personalized estate plan enables you to look at your life in the broader sense. As each area of life is addressed during the process, it allows an individual to establish order within his or her personal and professional life.
3. Live a healthier lifestyle. While proper exercise and eating habits are normally thought of for this one, it is also important to ensure you are receiving adequate medical care. Creating formal incapacity documents that provide a trusted loved one with Health Care Power Of Attorney can help safeguard your ability to receive the medical care you value. Knowing you have a designated representative in place to honor your healthcare decisions is one of the healthiest choices you can make.
4. Embrace love. If you are entering a new marriage or letting go of a relationship, certain agreements can be drafted to make sure your personal assets are protected. Examples of these documents would include pre-nuptial, post-nuptial, and co-tenancy agreements.
5. Travel more. Before you embark on that whirlwind vacation you have always wanted, it is probably a smart choice to have documentation relating to Financial Power of Attorney in place. Travel can sometimes lead to unexpected moments that may leave you wishing you had provided someone the ability to tend to financial matters in an event where you cannot do so yourself. The same may go for your healthcare decisions, so it is probably best to have all of your incapacity documents completed, just in case.
6. Chase your passion. Maybe there is a business venture you want to pursue or perhaps you just want your personal ideas to be kept private. Either way, there are certain avenues for protecting intellectual property, specifically your digital assets. Other techniques can secure privacy in business pursuits by keeping your identity confidential in purchasing real property through the formation of an LLC.
7. Save money. Two words: asset protection. Saving money is a prudent goal for the year, but taking it one step further and making sure that the money you save is protected is the key to ensuring that goal has meaning for the future. Placing your valuable assets in a revocable or irrevocable trust can be a complex decision, but one that can be beneficial with proper guidance.
8. Become politically informed. The political climate is rapidly changing and tax laws in 2017 likely will be changing with it. This means that making sure your will and trust documents stay up to date with the latest rules and regulations may be more important than ever in 2017.
9. Give back. It is commonly said that change can start in your own backyard. For estate planning, establishing a conservatorship is one opportunity to provide your loved ones with the care they need they cannot care for themselves and have not planned accordingly otherwise. There are also many estate planning techniques available to maximize your charitable gifts while at the same time minimizing your income tax burden.
10. Be less stressed. There is no reason the coming year should be a source of stress. Every day, not just every year, we are given a chance to start over and make the positive changes we wish to see in our lives become a reality. Taking time to establish an estate plan to handle whatever the year throws your way will help you rest easier for years to come.
© 2017 Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin PLLC. All Rights Reserved.
The information contained in this column is restricted to matters of general legal interest and does not constitute legal advice. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each person, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel. Further, persons reading this information should not act upon this information without seeking the advice of legal counsel.
Rob Hazard is an attorney and CPA with GSRM. Rob offers families and individuals comprehensive estate planning solutions that are tailored to their particular needs and goals.
GSRM attorneys regularly appear in probate court in contested and uncontested cases involving estates, conservatorships and trusts. If you are seeking legal or other professional advice, we encourage you to reach out directly to us – after you have fully read and understand our disclaimer.