Inertia is one of the hardest things to overcome. As Newton said, “an object at rest, stays at rest…”. You have just completed compiling paperwork for your income tax returns. I suggest using that organizational momentum to review your estate plan. Many times during the course of a conversation regarding Will planning someone says, “I took care of that 10 years ago”.

Many things have changed in the last ten years- additional children, your net worth, your asset classes, tax laws etc. Your estate plan is not a static set of documents; it is organic, like your life. This necessitates a review every 3-5 years with your estate planning attorney.

Many of those same people who “took care of it 10 years ago” do not know where the original wills are, who the Guardian of their children are, and who is playing a major role in the planning of their lives in the event of disability or death. I promise that you do not want to revisit that for the first time in 10 years while you are at the hospital.

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What should you review?

  1. Who is your executor and who is the backup?  This is the person who is authorized to handle your affairs in the event of your death.

  2. Who is your power of attorney and who is the backup? This is the person who is authorized to handle your legal and financial affairs in the event of your disability.

  3. Who is your healthcare agent? This is the person who is authorized to handle your medical decisions in the event you cannot speak for yourself.

  4. Is it appropriate to do tax planning given the favorable Federal estate tax exemption limits and that there is currently no New Jersey state-based estate tax? What if you have property in another state? What about the New York state-based estate tax?

  5. Who are the beneficiaries of your retirement plan? Is there any planning you can do to protect that money from creditors such as your adult children’s spouses?

Of course, there may be other things to review given your life situation, but the point is that you keep the conversation active with your attorney. Get organized and do not let inertia settle in.

Avelino & Hartlaub, LLP is a boutique firm with primary practice areas that include: Real Estate; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Elder Law; Corporate Law; Land Use & Zoning; and Litigation. While the scope of the firm's services is wide, a key differentiator of the new firm is the insight, dedication to excellence, and commitment to client service within each area.

Avelino & Hartlaub, LLP has offices in Summit, at 47 River Road, and in Manhattan at 11 Park Place, Suite 1715. For more information, including a free and private consultation, call 908-273-5730 or contact lawyers@avelinohartlaub.com.