Spring has officially sprung and that means it’s spring cleaning time. Shake out the rugs, clean out the cupboards, refresh your flower bed, and get your legal and financial affairs in order.
For plenty of folks, it’s easy to know what to do when it comes to home organization, but the idea of legal and financial ordering can be complex and confusing.
This article will give you a few places to start:
1. Review Your Beneficiary Designations
Request updated beneficiary designation forms from your life insurance account and retirement account custodians. Look at the form and identify whether you have a minor designated as either a primary or contingent beneficiary. If you do, those assets will be tied up in Court, unnecessarily, and may not be available to the people you’ve named to care for your children.
Also consider your bank accounts, they can be payable on death. This can help avoid probate, but make sure they designate the best beneficiary.
Consider designating your life insurance, retirement and bank accounts to be distributed to a trust for the benefit of your heirs, providing Court and creditor protection, and ensuring your children do not inherit money before they are properly prepared.
2. Update Your Family Wealth Inventory
Create an Inventory of your assets, make a list of all you have and how to access each item. If the asset has a designated beneficiary or how it is titled. I encourage my clients to prepare a Family Wealth Inventory, where we document the assets that you own, so that in the event you become incapacitated or when you die, your family will know how to find what you own.
Without an updated Family Wealth Inventory, your assets could be lost to the state department of unclaimed property. In 2018, Texas had $4 Billion dollars of assets in its state department of unclaimed property because most people do not leave a clear record of their assets at the time of their incapacity or death.
3. Consider if You Need to Name New Guardians (Long or Short-Term)
Review your guardian nomination designations. Have you named guardians for both the short-term (local) and the long-term (people you would trust to raise your kids fully)? If so, do they need to change? Is there anyone you would wish to exclude? Does the ID card for your wallet need to be updated? This is the time to check.
4. Check Out the Title to Your House
Get a copy of the deed to your house and make sure that your trust is listed as the owner on the deed, if you want your house to stay out of court in the event of your incapacity or death. If you see your personal name on the deed, and there is not a trust listed, you can be sure that would result in your house having to go through the court process of probate in the event of your death. If you don’t want that, now is the perfect time to spruce up your planning.
5. Consider Your Agents
Who is named as your agent under your Power of Attorney? Do you have a Power of Attorney in the event of incapacity? Who is named to make medical decisions in the event of an accident or incapacity? These are important people in your life, so the choices should be carefully considered. Having documents in place in the event of an accident or incapacity is crucial. Get your housekeeping started today.
This article is a service of the Law Office of Lasca A. Arnold, PLLC, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.