Checklist for Planning Your Estate This Holiday Season

The holidays are best spent with family and friends. Most people take time out of their busy schedules to spend at least a day or two with the people they love most and talk, relax, and bond. This time of family celebration is more than just a welcome break at the end of the year; it’s also an excellent time to think about your estate plan.

Estate planning may seem like the opposite of good cheer, but it’s more appropriate than you’d think. Don’t miss this opportunity to spend time with loved ones and make sure your plan is up-to-date. Here’s why you should consider your estate plan when spending time with family this winter and a checklist of considerations you can address while everyone’s together.

Why Perform Estate Planning During the Holidays?

The goal of an estate plan is to protect your loved ones and give them the best possible present after you’re gone: the gift of peace of mind. A good plan includes many documents to accomplish this goal, including:

  • A Will and Testament to clearly explain what you want to happen with your assets when you’re gone to minimize conflict during the probate process.
  • A Medical Advanced Directive (sometimes called a living will) explains what kind of medical care you do and do not want to receive if you are incapacitated, so your loved ones don’t have to make that choice for you.
  • Power of Attorney papers to give a trusted person the right to make financial, legal, or medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
  • Guardianship documents explaining who you want to care for your dependents if you are unavailable.
  • Trust paperwork identifying trustees and the rules of any trusts you have set up to protect your assets after you are gone. 

The point of all these items is to ensure you can pass on assets to your loved ones and ensure they are well cared for after you can’t take care of them. That makes the holidays the perfect time to update your plan. You’re already thinking about how much you care about your family, and they are hopefully all in the same place, making it easy to discuss matters face-to-face. 

Checklist for Holiday Estate Planning

If you’re drafting or revising your estate plan over the holidays, there are several things you should do to make the most of the opportunity:

Talk to Family 

It’s too easy to lose touch with loved ones during the busy summer months. Family gatherings are the perfect time to reconnect with everyone and learn what’s going on in their lives. Talking with family members allows you to:

  • Learn about financial changes in people’s lives.
  • Identify who may benefit most from receiving certain assets.
  • Refresh yourself on the ages of any grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and other young people in your extended family.
  • Learn which family members have moved back to the area or are planning to move away.

In short, the holidays help you catch up with your family and discover who may benefit most from your estate.

Identify Good Agents 

If you are drafting an estate plan for the first time, the holidays are the perfect opportunity to identify people you would trust with Power of Attorney. Granting someone power of attorney makes them your agent if you should be incapacitated, such as falling into a coma or developing Alzheimer’s. When talking to your family, you can determine who may make a good agent by considering the following:

  • Who seems reliable and trustworthy?
  • Who has the time and energy to act as your agent?
  • Who is loyal to you and willing to prioritize your best interest?
  • Who lives close enough to you that they could easily appear in person?

Once you identify a candidate or two, you can discuss this sensitive matter with them in person. On the other hand, you may decide you do not want to burden any family member with this responsibility. In that case, you can consult with an experienced attorney and request that they act as your agent instead.

Consider Changes 

If you already have an estate plan, talking to your loved ones allows you to make informed decisions about changes. For example, if you realize your oldest grandchild is now a legal adult, you may decide to change how they are treated in your will. Meanwhile, if the person you granted Power of Attorney is moving to another state, you may need to revoke their power and give it to someone else. 

Draft or Update Your Estate Plan for the New Year

Whether you need to write an estate plan for the first time or you are considering revising your current one, the holidays are a good time to get started. Schedule your consultation with the expert attorneys at The Dayton Law Offices today to discuss your considerations. We will help you draft or revise your plan to fit your current and future needs, no matter what those may be.