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A Different Kind of Spring-Cleaning: Part II What Do Your Documents Say, and Does It Make Sense for You?
In last month’s edition of this newsletter, I highlighted the
to step back and look at the whole picture to make sure everything was in order.
When Fred and I took our celebratory post- surgery rehabilitation trip to Europe, I thought it might be a good idea to update my power of attorney, which I hadn’t done since 2009. I know that powers of attorney do not “go bad,” but the reality is that they are less likely to be accepted by financial institutions if they are much more than a few years old, so mine was overdue and quite stale. Another extremely important part of this re- evaluation process is actually consulting with the trusted family members you named in these documents previously, to make sure that everyone’s circumstances haven’t changed. For me, I didn’t just need to add Fred to give him authority regarding my financial and medical decisions; I also needed to consult with my daughter, London, to let her know what I’d previously planned and to determine if she had any feedback about what I did moving forward. When I made my trust, London was only 17. Before reviewing these documents, my recollection was that at my death there would be a few gifts dispersed to other family and charities and that the rest would be held in trust for London until she was 25. But when I actually went back and read through the verbiage, I realized that I’d opted for staggered distributions until she was 35. I’ve found that this happens to us often; we remember what we want our documents to say. In my case, I knew I needed to make some updates now that London’s older and I’ve had more time to see how she handles her finances. While I am perfectly confident in her ability to make sound financial decisions and would be happy to allow her to receive everything outright, London wanted the assets to be held
significance of reviewing,
organizing, and properly storing legal documents to ensure that they stay safe and are easily accessible. While strategies for
organization and safekeeping documents are absolute necessities, taking the time to read through the documents to determine if they make sense is equally important. As you probably already know, my surgery last year forced me to meticulously reevaluate my own documents, and in doing so, I realized that I needed to make some definitive changes. For example, in February, before my surgery, I looked at my medical directive and realized that I needed to update it in order to include my fiancé, Fred. I realized that he is one of the people I trust to make those types of decisions, and had I not updated that directive, he would have had no authority. That change led me
for a year to give her time to grieve and not have to make big financial decisions. Protecting your beneficiaries from their own potential financial precariousness — especially when they are grieving — helps immensely. In my situation, London had the wisdom to ask for more time for herself, which is very lucky. Not all beneficiaries have that foresight. In addition to taking their emotional state into consideration, taking a closer look at your beneficiaries’ age and health is necessary as well. I’m telling you this story to demonstrate the importance of making sure your documents reflect your current situation and wishes. Changes in life are inevitable, and your documents need to keep up in order to give you and your loved ones peace of mind. If you need any help reviewing your current plan or establishing your estate plan, you knowwho to call.
THE 7 HAZARDS TO YOUR ESTATE PLAN
Thursday, May 9 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.; 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 28 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
The workshops are free, but registration is required. Call 757-690-2470 for more information or to register.
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