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Six Savvy Moves to Protect Your Retirement and Your Family

“When was the last time you looked at your financial beneficiaries and other estate planning documents?”

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Estate Planning. One couple announced to their estate planning attorney that they had updated their wills—and when asked, said they had done it back when the husband’s father was alive. That was almost 30 years ago. Every four or five years, or whenever there is a large change to the tax laws, it’s time for a review.

Another person had her mother listed as her beneficiary. They’re together almost all the time. What if they both die together? What happens then? A skilled estate planning attorney will ask these delicate questions to make sure your plan works.

How’s Your Health? It doesn’t matter if you are as healthy as a horse, you still need to have a health care power of attorney. You never know when you might become incapacitated. This gives you the opportunity to choose who will make decisions on your behalf.

We never know when this may occur. It could be an accident, an allergic response to a vaccination or a diabetic emergency. We can’t prevent emergencies, but we can prepare for them.

A living will, or advance directive, tells doctors and relatives more detailed information about how you want specific situations addressed. Do you want a “DNR” or “do not resuscitate” order?

Splitting Up? Don’t Miss These Details. A clear picture of your financial status will be helpful for updating your estate plan. You should not wait until your divorce is final to do that! One of the first things an estate planning attorney will ask a divorcing client, is who is their beneficiary and power of attorney? If the divorce is amicable, maybe that doesn’t need to change. However, most people need to make those changes.

Here's one story we’ve heard too many times. Couples who have separated but not yet finalized their divorces, fail to change their estate plans. One woman ended up having to go to court every time she needed money for the care of her minor children. Her husband had changed the beneficiaries of his accounts to his minor children but did not name a guardian or create a trust.

Life is all about changes and your estate plan needs to change along with them.

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