Scott Counsel - June 2020

www.scottcounsel.com 856-281-3131

JUNE 2020

A Surprising Thing About Estate Planning Many Clients Don’t Know

Over the past few months, interest in estate planning has definitely increased. I don’t think the reason behind that needs any explanation, but as more and more people have come to us to help get their estate plans in order, there is one aspect of the estate planning process that I’ve been surprised more people aren’t aware of: the need to update your plan frequently. As many of us have learned recently, our lives and circumstances can change when we least expect them to. And as our lives change, so do our priorities regarding what to do with our assets when we pass on. As an example, say you named Uncle Joe as a beneficiary in your will 10 years ago, but you have recently named someone else as a beneficiary for the same assets in an IRA or a health insurance policy. Even though Uncle Joe was named in your will, whoever you named as a beneficiary on those other documents will be prioritized over him in the courts. One of the most important parts of creating an airtight estate plan is making sure all of your documents line up with your final wishes, even as those final wishes change. It’s not enough to write up a will and then not change it over the next 30 years. A lot can happen in 30 years! In fact, not too long ago, I was working with a client who hadn’t updated their estate plan in that long. They wanted to make sure to prioritize their only grandson, but they had named a cousin that they hadn’t even spoken to in years as their primary beneficiary! It’s a good thing that they came in to update their will at that point. The last thing you want for your family is for them to be left sorting out their inheritance in the courts after you’re gone. “Working over the phone and on video calls is doable for the season we’re in, but I miss seeing all of you in person. When I get to do that, I feel like family.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that an estate plan is more than just a last will and testament. That’s something else I’ve realized a lot of people don’t know. Updating your estate plan includes naming a durable medical power of attorney, a durable financial power of attorney, and a health care proxy, as well as potentially creating a trust and filling out a HIPAA authorization. There are a lot of moving parts to keep track of, but in order to have a well-executed estate plan, you should make sure all these parts are updated and work together to support your final wishes. While I’m happy to still be able to work with our clients and keep them up to date on everything they need to prepare their end of life plans, I hope that by the time you’re reading this, I’m able to be at more of my clients’ bedsides, in person, in the near future. Working over the phone and on video calls is doable for the season we’re in, but I miss seeing all of you in person. When I get to do that, I feel like family. I know I can say the same for Justin — he’s anticipating getting to see all of you in person as well. But, in the meantime, we’re happy to be working with all of you and helping in whatever way we can.

-Christa Ciocco-Fries

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