With a new year comes new resolutions.  Most people’s resolutions generally involve physical health and wellness.  While such resolutions are admirable, there are other resolutions that are far easier to keep that simply involve getting out old documents and making an appointment with your lawyer.

The following resolutions are easy ways to make sure that your estate and elder law matters are up to date for the new year and years to come:

1.    Confirm your beneficiary designations on your retirement and bank accounts and life insurance policies.

Sometimes beneficiaries are named when the account is established, but sometimes they are not.  Check in with your retirement account companies, life insurance companies, and banks to confirm who your beneficiaries are and to make sure that primary and contingent beneficiaries are named.

Remember that your named beneficiaries on an account override the beneficiaries named in your Will.  This is a great time to make sure that your Will and your beneficiary designations accomplish the estate plan that you intend.

2.    Get out your advance directives and Will to make sure they still apply.

Does your health care proxy list the correct phone numbers on the document?  Do you have an alternate agent to act as your Power of Attorney if your primary agent is unable to act?  Did you buy a new condo in Florida?  Do you have young children or grandkids now?

These are all reasons to review your documents and assets, and to make an appointment with your attorney, even if it is to confirm that your current plan still accomplishes your estate planning goals.

3.    Explore options for long-term care planning and get up to speed on possible options for planning.

The cost of nursing homes in the area can run anywhere from approximately $10,000 to $14,000 per month, and private, 24/7 nursing care at home usually costs more than that. 

Have you considered long-term care insurance?  Have you heard about a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust?  There are plenty of options available for both long-term and short-term planning for nursing care that can be discussed with an elder law attorney.  Becoming informed of such plans, at the very least, can provide peace of mind knowing that you have a plan in place or know what to expect should nursing care become necessary in the future.

While health and wellness are important resolutions, so are financial and legal resolutions.  The peace of mind in spending a few hours to make sure that your estate plan benefits you, your spouse, and/or your family in the intended and best way possible is worth it.

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