New Year, New Resolutions: Make Sure to Go Over This Estate Planning Checklist!

It’s the start of a new year and the perfect time to sit back and reflect. Maybe you went through some major life changes this past year, like having a child or getting divorced. Regardless of what happened, the beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to either review or get started on your estate plan. Whether you live alone or are married with kids, it’s never too early or too late.

At Hulbert & Associates, we have the experience to help you figure out the plan that makes sense for you and family, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for help. In the meantime, here are some of the main estate planning tools to review or to get your estate plan started.


  • Wills


The will is probably the most common, or at least most well-known, estate planning tool. It’s a written document that maps out what you want to happen with your estate after you’re gone, and is generally what everyone thinks about needing when it comes to their own mortality. But on a more positive note, making sure you have a will and that it is kept up to date is one of the best things you can do for you and your family.

Wills enable you to make sure that all of your wishes are carried out after you’re gone and can be as detailed as you want. It’s also really important to review your will annually to take into account any life changes that have occurred. So no matter the size of your assets, wills are usually a great place to start when it comes to executing or reviewing your estate plan.


  • Trusts


Trusts are another very popular tool when it comes to estate planning. A trust is a document that, unlike a will, is enforceable from the moment it is executed. It’s for this reason that trusts are a bit more flexible than wills, because you can start taking control over what happens to your estate while you are still alive. But, aside from the differences as to when they take effect, trusts are actually very similar to wills because they explain what you want to happen with your estate during your life, through any medical ailments, or in death.

Trusts also help to avoid probate court entirely because all of your assets can pass to your beneficiaries in private, which eliminates the need for a court to make decisions on your behalf. Again, like with wills, it is important to keep trust documents as updated as possible and review them every year to make sure your desires are still properly reflected.


  • Powers of Attorney


Powers of attorney are a different, but very useful type of estate plan document. Powers of attorney are written documents that enable you to grant certain powers to selected individuals. For example, you can grant someone else the power to control your financial assets if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so. You can also grant someone else the power to make decisions regarding your healthcare in the event you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. There are many different ways that you can utilize the power of attorney and it’s a really good idea to speak with an experienced attorney to help you figure out which is best for you. Check with those you’ve named with these responsibilities to make sure that they are still on board and know your wishes.


  • Living Will


Living wills are another kind of useful document that should be reviewed every year. They explain what you want to happen to you if something tragic happens and you require life saving or life sustaining medical treatment. In a living will, you can decide things like whether you grant your doctor to power to perform a new or alternative kind of life saving surgery or if want to be kept alive on life support. Living wills take a lot of stress off of your family members during what would already be a terrible time, so it is important to create and execute this document with great care. Make sure to check this annually so that it still reflects your philosophy and wishes.

Speak with an experienced family law attorney.

These are just a few examples of estate planning tools. You can tailor your plan further by combining the various types in order to create a plan fit your needs. At Hulbert & Associates, we understand the sensitive and private nature of planning your estate and we want to help you figure out what is best for you and your family. If you have an estate plan that needs to be reviewed or if you just want to talk about getting started, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Written by Lori Hulbert

Together the attorneys of the firm have nearly 30 years of experience in the fields of estate planning, estate and trust administration, estate and trust litigation, guardianships and conservatorships and civil litigation.