I read a great article in the Agriculture Law Update from the American Agriculture Law Association (“AALA”) by Kevin Alerding, Esq., a Partner at Ice Miller, LLP in Indianapolis, Indiana, about reviewing estate plans. Alerding recommends that folks review their estate plan once a year. I think this is good advice so it becomes part of your regular routine. Perhaps after you file your taxes each spring you should make a point to also review your estate plan to make sure it is up-to-date.
Alerding understands that nonlawyers don’t necessarily know what to look for when reveiwing their estate documents. Due to this, he felt inspired to created a step-by-step guide on what you should look for when reviewing your will, health proxy, power of attorney, trusts, life insurance, retirement accounts, and joint bank accounts. I suggest reading the step-by-step guide for reviewing your estate plan here.
Of course, during your review of these documents you might find that you don’t have everything you need. Make it a priority to finalize these documents because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Around the holidays last December my brother was in a car accident and the nurse asked my parents if he had a healthy proxy. Last fall, Tara Dahl of Darrell Dunham & Associates in Carbondale, Illinois drafted my brother a health proxy but he hadn’t gotten it notarized yet. My brother is young, in great health, and has his whole life in front of him– but unexpected things happen. Fortunately my brother is fine but this reminded me just how important it is for people to get their estate planning documents in order no matter what age you are.
As always, estate planning issues are state specific so you are encouraged to speak to a local attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.
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