How to Incorporate Charitable Giving into an Estate Plan

When looking into charitable giving, it can easily become overwhelming. Talking to an experienced estate planning attorney can help make this a simple part of your estate planning that you feel great about.

The Press & Guide’s recent article, “Estate planning and charitable giving,” explains that there are a number of ways to incorporate charitable giving into an estate plan.  It is something that almost anyone can do. Let’s look at some common ways to give:

Giving in your will or living trust. When hearing about charitable giving and estate planning, many people may get intimidated by estate taxes. They think their heirs will not get as much of their money as they wanted. However, including a charitable contribution in your estate plan will reduce your estate tax liabilities—helping to maximize the final value of your estate for your heirs. Talk to your estate attorney and ensure that your donation is detailed properly in your will or trust.

Donating your retirement account. Many people don’t realize this, but you can name a charity as the beneficiary on your IRA or 401k. Charities are exempt from both income and estate taxes, so going this route means the charity will receive 100% of the account’s value when it’s liquidated. That is a great way to preserve the full value of the gift of the retirement account, because of the taxes that won’t have to be paid.

Creating a charitable trust. A charitable trust is another way to give back through estate planning. You can ask your attorney about a split-interest trust such as a charitable remainder trust, which allows a person to donate their assets to a charity, but keep a stream of income from those assets during lifetime as well as get a current tax deduction based on the  assets that will ultimately pass to charitable beneficiaries.

Charitable giving is an important component of many people’s estate plan. There are several options, so speak to an experienced estate planning attorney to help you select the best one for you, your family and the charities you want to support.

Reference: (Southgate MI) Press & Guide (January 27, 2019) “Estate planning and charitable giving”

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No Estate Taxes? You May Still Need Life Insurance

Increases in the estate tax exemption (up to $11.4 million per person as of the date of this writing) has an impact on how some people are thinking about life insurance, says ThinkAdvisor in the article “Estate Planning Is Still Important.” However, before making any changes, consider the larger picture and think long term.

Let’s start with why many people buy life insurance policies. As young parents, they buy life insurance so a surviving spouse and family will be able to continue to live in their home, pay the mortgage and send children to college.

Another reason for life insurance is to cover the cost of estate taxes. The new higher estate tax exemption referenced above is federal. Your heirs may still have state estate taxes and inheritance taxes, depending upon where you live and the laws in effect at the time. Having an insurance policy will still help with the costs of settling an estate and paying any taxes that are due. 

Also remember, the new tax exemption has a sunset date. The year 2026 may seem far away. However, it will arrive, while we are busy with our lives. It may be much harder and more expensive to purchase a life insurance policy in 2026 than it is right now.

If someone is very old or in ill health, they have a different window of time for planning. However, if you are in your middle years or relatively healthy, now is not the time to put off purchasing life insurance or to let an existing policy lapse.

We know that political landscapes change. If they do, and you want to buy a policy, there may be additional obstacles in the future.

Life insurance also serves as a tool for your estate. If one child wants a specific asset you own (such as a home or a business), life insurance can become an equalizer.  Or, if you have a person (child or otherwise) in mind as your successor in your business, having a life insurance policy can provide a source of funds for the person to buy your interests in the company after you pass away.

If your estate plan seeks to distribute an inheritance equally from assets in a traditional IRA, life insurance can become an equalizer. Or, suppose one child is in a much higher tax bracket than the others. Upon receiving the IRA distributions, they will have to pay more in taxes than the others. The child in the lower bracket will end up with a larger sum of money, having lower taxes on their inheritance. This could lead to sibling arguments, which are not uncommon when brothers and sisters become heirs. Once again, the insurance policy proceeds can be used to make up the difference.

You get the takeaway here, the extra liquidity is always helpful.

Another point to consider is who owns the insurance policy? If it is owned by a trust, you may not have the legal right to make a change. If the trustee does not agree that the policy should be liquidated or cancelled, they may not allow the change to go forward. 

Your estate planning attorney will be able to review your life insurance policies if you provide them to us. Your estate plan works best when all parts work in concert.

Reference: ThinkAdvisor (Jan. 11, 2019) “Estate Planning Is Still Important”

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Is Your Medical Directive Up to Date?

In 1976, California became the first state to pass laws enabling adults to record their wishes regarding end-of-life care and other health care decisions in advance. Medical directives, often referred to as advance directives or advance health care directives, along with a number of other estate planning documents, require us to confront some of the unpleasant, important and inevitable issues that we will face.

Unfortunately, what typically happens is that families fail to discuss these topics. According to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform  (CANHR) only 37% of American adults have an advance directive.  That means, when an emergency strikes, family members and medical providers must make the decisions without any input from the person who has become ill or injured.

There’s a way to handle this, according to the article “Keep medical directives up to date” from the Watertown Public Opinion. If you don’t have a medical directive, it’s time to meet with an estate planning attorney and get started on one. If you do, but haven’t looked at it in more than four or five years, it’s time for a review to make sure it still reflects your wishes.

Medical directives that are out-of-date often become useless. For instance, if you completed a “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care” before 1992, it has expired by operation of law. Furthermore, even if still legally valid, if a family member who was designated to make end-of-life decisions for a spouse is suffering from dementia, they are no longer legally competent to make any decisions and cannot act as an agent.

One way to avoid this is to have an alternate person designated. Your spouse may be aging along with you, and one of you may not necessarily be able to make decisions when they are needed. So be sure the alternate agent has the strength of character to make a decision that follows your wishes, even if it’s not what your family wants to be done. They have to be able to follow your instructions, which is not always easy.

Just as important as having the documents created, is having the conversation among family members about what you want or don’t want. Having that conversation and clarifying wishes will make it far easier for the family member or designated representative, because they will know they are doing what you want. This conversation may give the individual empowered to make the critical decision greater confidence and strength.

While it is (relatively) easier to have these conversations when everyone is in good health, a family member who is scared, grieving and emotionally overwhelmed, may find themselves confronted with one of the hardest decisions of their lives.

That’s why it’s so important for people to give their family members the clarity and direction they will need when it comes to end-of-life care decisions. You’ll need to select a person with a strong backbone and who is not easily frazzled. Also, check in with them periodically to make sure they can still perform the duties of their role. 

An estate planning attorney will be able to discuss these matters with you and clarify who, among your family members or friends, would be the right person to select. A family meeting with the attorney may also make the process easier for all concerned. Your attorney can also be sure you have the most current language in your advance directive. For instance, former California Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 3211 in 2018, which made three amendments to the state advance directive act that clarify the rights of patients regarding organ donation.  The relevant form has been updated as a result.

Reference: Watertown Public Opinion (Nov. 20, 2018) “Keep medical directives up to date”

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How Do I Find the Right Estate Planning Attorney?

When looking for an estate planning attorney, many people feel more comfortable with getting a personal referral than by trying to find an attorney on their own.

While a referral from friends can be a good start to finding an experienced attorney, it may not be enough to cultivate a successful working relationship, says The San Francisco Business Times in the recently published article, “Guide to finding an estate planning attorney who is right for you.”

  1. Identify the type of estate planning attorney needed. Many people can use the services of an estate planning attorney to draft wills, powers of attorney, and basic trusts. However, some situations require an attorney with certain focuses. For example, those who are concerned about maximizing benefits for beneficiaries with special needs, or who are interested in inheritance lawsuit protection for their spouse or adult child, should work with an attorney with direct experience in drafting the documents needed to accomplish those objectives.
  2. Interview your short list. See if there’s a fee for a “meet and greet” conversation before you schedule a meeting. Most attorneys welcome the opportunity to speak with potential clients.
  3. Review the attorney’s educational credentials online. Then, at the introductory meeting, consider procedural questions in addition to asking for specific legal advice. For instance, you may want to ask about topics such as relevant experience, preferred methods of communication and points of contact, billing practices and whether the attorney has the bandwidth (capacity) to work on your matter.
  4. Make an assessment after the meeting. After the interview, assess how the meeting went. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Did the attorney respond in a timely manner?
  • Did you understand the answers he/she gave you? Could they speak in plain English?
  • Did you feel comfortable asking follow-up questions?

If you weren’t totally comfortable with this first meeting, you may never develop the type of open conversation that’s critical to have with your estate planning attorney. You don’t need your estate planning attorney to be your best friend, but you do need to trust them with your family’s future. If one does not suit you, continue looking until you find one who is a good fit.

  1. Move ahead. If you felt good and liked the attorney’s approach, go ahead and move forward.
  2. Get all the fee info out in the open. An estate planning attorney will usually prepare fee engagement letters that sets out the scope of services and billing practices. If your attorney doesn’t give this type of letter for you to review and sign, ask her to put the fee agreement in writing. Make certain that you understand the letter. If you have questions, get answers before signing.

Reference: San Francisco Business Times (January 4, 2019) “Guide to finding an estate planning attorney who is right for you”

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Should I Create My Will Online?

More than 50% of Americans don’t have a will, according to a 2017 survey by Caring.com.

A U.S. News & World Report’s article asks “Should You Make a Free Will Online?” According to the article, before writing your will or using an online service, you need to know the legal requirements in your area. In many instances, this is best left to a legal professional in your state.

There are plenty of online tools that will help you create a will. However, before clicking on a website’s promise, you need to evaluate the disclaimers.

There are three main ways to write a will:

  1. Do it yourself;
  2. Use a do-it-yourself program; or
  3. Get help from a qualified estate planning attorney.

If you draft a will on your own, you’ll need to be absolutely certain you understand all of the applicable probate, tax and property laws in order to avoid unintended consequences that won’t become apparent until after you have passed away. Many of the most interesting cases in court arose out of holographic or self written wills.

If you use an online service, you’ll have access to software that walks you through the process. That is a step in the right direction. But look at the disclaimers on the website. No matter what the website or marketing says or how great it sounds, the disclaimers tell another story. For instance, here is a current quote from LegalZoom, a leader in online document creation services:

“LegalZoom is not a law firm, and the employees of LegalZoom are not acting as your attorney. LegalZoom’s legal document service is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. LegalZoom cannot provide legal advice and can only provide self-help services at your specific direction. LegalZoom is not permitted to engage in the practice of law. LegalZoom is prohibited from providing any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation to a consumer about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.”

The disclaimer closes by saying:

“LegalZoom is not responsible for any loss, injury, claim, liability, or damage related to your use of this site or any site linked to this site, whether from errors or omissions in the content of our site or any other linked sites, from the site being down or from any other use of the site. In short, your use of the site is at your own risk.”

Read the full disclaimer at: https://www.legalzoom.com/disclaimer.html

On the other hand, if you engage the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney, you’ll have the opportunity to have an expert help you think through the details. This result will be a well-drafted will. Yes, it will cost a bit more, but your loved ones and peace of mind are well worth it.

If you have a larger estate or assets you want to protect for a spouse or children, it’s wise to work with an attorney who can counsel you on the best solutions for your situation. For example, if you have a child with special needs receiving government benefits, you should have an attorney create a trust so their inheritance doesn’t negatively impact their benefits. Or if you have a child whose inheritance you want to protect from his or her money problems or potential divorces, work with an attorney.

You should also use an attorney if you want to reduce your exposure to probate fees and costs. In order to avoid probate, many people transfer their assets into a revocable living trust, so they are not subject to probate fees and costs. An online service can’t typically give you this type of attention or personalized service, and they can’t assist you with funding your living trust, which is critical in order to avoid probate.

In fact, I would argue that, in many cases, you’ll actually end up paying considerably less by using an attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney has helped hundreds of families. He or she can offer insight into setting up guardians for minor children, appointing an individual to be in charge of the distribution of the estate, and can optimize your estate plan to save as much overall tax as is possible. There are frequently income tax, property tax, estate and gift tax considerations about which the average person (or attorney) doesn’t know or monitor.

Reference: U.S. News & World Report (January 9, 2019) “Should You Make a Free Will Online?”

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Updating Your Estate Plan After a Divorce

Updating your estate plan after a divorce should be at the top of your must do list.

Forbes’ recent article, “9 Things You Need To Know About Estate Planning After Divorce” suggests that, if your divorce was finalized in 2018, prior to the effective date of the new rules providing that alimony is no longer tax deductible, it’s time to revise your estate plan. It’s also good idea for those people who divorced in prior years and never updated their estate plans.

Let’s look at some of the issues you should be thinking about:

See your estate planning attorney. Right off the bat, send your divorce agreement to your estate planning attorney, so he or she can see what obligations you have to your ex-spouse in the event of your death.

Healthcare Directive. This document lets you designate someone to make health care decisions for you if you were incapacitated and not able to communicate those wishes yourself.  You may wish to remove your ex-spouse as your agent.

Power of Attorney. If you had an old Power of Attorney that named your ex-spouse, it should be revoked, and you should execute a new Power of Attorney naming a friend, relative, or trusted advisor to act as your agent regarding your finances and assets.

Your Will and Trust. Ask your attorney to remove the provisions for your ex-spouse and remove your ex-spouse as the executor and trustee. If it is still your intention to keep those terms in place, execute new post divorce documents to memorialize that. 

Guardianship. If you have minor children, you can still name your ex-spouse as the guardian in your will. Even if you don’t, your ex-spouse will probably be appointed guardian if you pass away, unless he or she is determined by the judge to be unfit. 

A trust for your minor children. If you don’t have a trust set up for your minor children, and your ex-spouse is the children’s guardian, he or she will have control of the children’s finances until they turn 18. You may ask your estate planning attorney about a revocable trust that will name someone else you select as the trustee to access and control these funds for your children if you pass away when they are still minors.

Life insurance. You may have an obligation to maintain life insurance under the divorce agreement. Review that with your estate planning attorney. For any benefits not payable to your ex-spouse, be sure and update beneficiary designations accordingly. 

Beneficiary designations. Be certain that your 401k and IRA beneficiary designations are consistent with the terms of your divorce agreement. Aside from that, have the beneficiary designations updated to reflect your wishes. Even if you still want to name your ex-spouse as the beneficiary, execute a new beneficiary designation dated after the divorce. It’s also wise to leave a letter of intent with your attorney, so your intentions are clear and enforceable.

Prenuptial agreement. If you’re thinking about getting remarried, consider a prenuptial agreement. At a minimum, it’s a good time to set up a separate property estate plan, preferably with a revocable living trust, so that your property can remain clearly separate property if you later remarry.

Post divorce is a great time to settle these outstanding issues from your divorce and get your estate plan in order to better reflect your future.

Reference: Forbes (January 8, 2019) “9 Things You Need To Know About Estate Planning After Divorce”

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How to Talk to Your Parents About Estate Planning

Fox 5 NY says in the article “Why estate planning is important regardless of your age or wealth” that this is great time to begin talking to your loved ones about estate planning, especially older relatives and parents.

The key to a successful discussion with your parents about estate planning depends upon the right approach.

Try to always make suggestions, rather than demands. One great way to start the conversation with family members, is to mention what you’re doing. You might say something like, “I just took care of my own estate planning. Have you done anything? Maybe we should talk about it.” That might get the conversation rolling.

Many people believe that, as they get older, they need a will. However, that’s just one piece of the puzzle: core estate planning includes a will, completed beneficiary designations for financial accounts, a general power of attorney, advance healthcare directive and, in many cases, a trust.

You’ll need to determine the people you trust most to help with finances and health care decisions in the event you can’t do it yourself in order to complete the documents listed above. You can use one person in both financial and healthcare roles, or list separate individuals for each role. Most people opt for a spouse, family member or a trusted friend.

You should also note that your will and trust doesn’t necessarily cover everything. Make certain that any beneficiaries designated in your retirement plans or life insurance and any additional names on joint bank accounts are current and properly integrated with your estate plan. The beneficiaries you appointed by a designation form will typically get the money in those accounts, no matter what it says in your will or trust.

If all of this sounds a bit complex, don’t worry, because an experienced California estate planning attorney can help you with all of the forms and all of your questions.

Reference: Fox 5 NY (December 12, 2018) “Why estate planning is important regardless of your age or wealth”

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Top 3 Reasons for Business Succession Planning

The San Antonio Business Journal’s recent article, “Plan your exit even if you never plan to leave your business,” explains that many owners think it’s okay to delay preparing for their business exit. Some think there’s no reason to plan for their exit whatsoever, because they’re willing to die in the business.

But owners should always have an exit plan prepared and ready. Things change, such as our health, the economy, and various legal planning opportunities. Therefore, be ready and consider these three key ways that business succession planning can help you and increase the value of your business—even if you don’t intend to leave.

Decrease your taxes. Whether you ultimately decide to sell your business, transfer ownership, or die working, you probably don’t want to pay more taxes than you have to. There are two ways business succession planning can help minimize taxes, even if you truly want to work until you die. For example, if your business value increases, your estate can benefit from a step-up in basis (if ownership of the business and the plan for its transfer after your death is properly set up in your estate plan). This saves your estate or beneficiaries from paying duplicate taxes based on the entire business value if it later sold.

The lifetime exclusion for gift and estate taxes (11.4 million as of the date of this writing) is now to the point where most small and mid-sized business owners don’t need to pay estate taxes, particularly if owners are married and have created an appropriate estate plan.

Protect your values. If you created a work culture that’s so unique and strong that it helps your company stand out in the marketplace, or your business gives back to the community, business succession planning lets you pursue and preserve your progress toward those important objectives. Exit planning strategies can foster the culture you’ve built, protect the employees who made the business a success, and help you build the legacy you want. Exit planning can help keep your chosen values front and center and protect its value, even without your presence.

Growing your business. Everyone wants their business to grow in value, but many business owners get to a point where they can’t grow the company any more by simply doing the same things they’ve been doing. However, business succession planning concentrates on building business value, whether you exit or not. These activities can help you increase your business’ growth potential, by emphasizing value drivers. Those are the aspects of your business that make it attractive to buyers. When it’s done the right way, installing value drivers can make your ownership even more fulfilling—concentrating on certain value drivers can let you focus on only your favorite tasks within the business and delegate your least favorite responsibilities to other qualified employees.

Use business succession planning to address concerns about the future of your business, family, and employees.

Reference: The San Antonio Business Journal (October 16, 2018) “Plan your exit even if you never plan to leave your business”

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Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

Estate planning is fairly easy to do. That said, it is also very easy not to do (as evidenced by the statistics on the subject). Therefore, it is helpful to understand the reasons why putting together your estate plan is so important.  Awareness of the importance of estate planning can help propel you into action.

Investopedia’s recent article, “4 Reasons Estate Planning Is So Important,” says you should consider the following four reasons why you should have an estate plan. According to the article, doing so can help avoid potentially devastating consequences for your family.

  1. An Estate Plan Keeps Your Assets from Going to Unintended Beneficiaries. Families need to plan in the event something unfortunate happens to a family’s breadwinner(s). A primary part of estate planning is choosing heirs for your assets. Without an estate plan, a judge will decide who gets your assets based on state law. The process can take years, and may become quite heated. In the end, there’s no guarantee the judge will order what you may have intended in your own mind, so it is important to document your wishes through a legally binding will or living trust.
  2. An Estate Plan Protects Young Children. If you are the parent of minor children, you need to name their guardians (i.e. backup parents) to step in and legally care for your children in the event both parents die before the children turn 18. Without including that in your will (in most, but not all states), the courts will make this decision for you. Similarly, you need to name people who can legally manage and look after assets that you leave behind for your children (such as life insurance proceeds or an IRA or 401(k) account). Otherwise, the court must choose a guardian to appoint. The takeaway here is, you know best who should (or should not) fulfill these roles. Make sure and do so in a legally binding document. Also, in most cases, I strongly recommend that trusts for minor children be included in the estate plan so the assets can be managed privately and without court oversight. We can create asset protection for the children in those trusts as well (from divorces or creditors for instance) but the language must be drafted properly to accomplish that. It’s critical that you include the advice and guidance of a caring and experienced estate planning attorney.
  3. An Estate Plan Eliminates a Potentially Large Tax Burden for Your Heirs. Estate planning means protecting your loved ones—which includes providing them with protection from the IRS and from property tax assessors in your local county. Without a plan, the amount your heirs will owe the government could be substantial. Therefore, your estate plan should transfer assets to your heirs and create the smallest overall tax burden as possible when considering the following tax systems:
    • Federal and State Estate Taxes
    • Capital Gains Taxes
    • Income Taxes
    • Property Taxes
  4. An Estate Plan Reduces Family Headaches After You’ve Passed. There are plenty of horror stories about how the family starts fighting after the death of a loved one. On my first day of Wills & Trusts class in law school, Professor Phil Wile told us about how we were going to learn the extent of human greed. Fortunately, you can help avoid that happening between your loved ones by creating your own complete and legally binding will and trust. In those documents, you will specify who will manage and control your finances and assets after you die while your affairs are being wrapped up. Then, the documents will specify who will receive your remaining assets, when, and how.  That all goes a long way towards eliminating family strife and making certain that your assets are handled in the way you want, and in a way that is most beneficial considering your personal family situation.

If you want to protect your assets and your loved ones after you’re gone, you need an estate plan. Without one, your heirs could face large tax burdens and the courts could decide how your assets are divided or who will care for your children. Again, be sure and seek the advice of an experienced wills and trusts attorney who works exclusively in the area of estate planning so you can be sure and receive the most bang for your buck when creating your estate plan.

Reference: Investopedia (May 25, 2018) “4 Reasons Estate Planning Is So Important”

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What Surviving Spouses Need to Do Immediately

Just last week, I spoke with a client whose trust based estate plan I’d prepared ten years ago. His wife had recently passed away.

The first thing I always tell my clients when that call comes in to breathe, put one foot in front of the other, and allow themselves time to grieve and be with their loved ones.

Within a month or so following the loss, the surviving spouse must spend some time addressing the affairs of the late spouse. However, it is equally important to focus on the needs of the surviving spouse. Certain documents must be reviewed, as soon as the surviving spouse is able to do so, as reported in The Legal Intelligencer’s article “Estate Planning for Surviving Spouses: What to Do ASAP.”

The first thing that needs to happen, is to make sure that the surviving spouse is protected for his or her lifetime. The surviving spouse needs to have his or her will and any estate planning documents reviewed. Some documents are intended for the benefit of the surviving spouse during his or her lifetime, while others are concerned more with the treatment of heirs. In the case of my client referred to above, we reviewed his estate plan over the phone and determined no action needed to be taken at this time with respect to the trust, as we had set things up to be very simple for the surviving spouse. We just prepared a simple affidavit showing that his wife had passed and that husband was serving alone as sole trustee.

In another case, a couple had changed the beneficiaries on their retirement plans to name each other, opened joint checking and savings accounts, and a joint a brokerage account when they married. We needed to update beneficiaries of those assets after her spouse’s passing, as well as remove the deceased spouse from title.  

In virtually all cases, the surviving spouse needs to review and consider the following:

Durable Powers of Attorney authorizes a named individual to act on your behalf for financial matters during your lifetime in case you can’t do so yourself. Most spouses will name each other, so that one spouse can sign for and make decisions on behalf of the other. Therefore, when a spouse dies, the surviving spouse must act quickly to name someone else to replace the decedent (unless there were appropriate alternates named in the document). The spouse should also evaluate whether they want the person/agent to act as power of attorney at any time, or only if/when the surviving spouse becomes incapacitated. If there is no power of attorney and the surviving spouse becomes incapacitated, it will take a court order to appoint someone to have this power, so make sure and get this documented properly.

Health care proxies are used to make medical decisions, if the person is not able to communicate their wishes. If the decedent was named as the health care agent, then the person named as the alternate agent will become the healthcare agent.

The surviving spouse needs to look at these papers, see who the alternate agent is and see if they still want to have that person in the role.

Health care proxies are often given to physicians or hospitals, so if you want to make a change, make sure that a copy of your health care proxy is given to anyone who might have the old health care proxy on file.

Strict rules today require that anyone who wants access to your health care information needs to have a HIPAA release form signed by you. Be sure your agents are named in a HIPAA release form so doctors can fill them in on your medical situation should the need arise.

Wills and trusts also need to be reviewed when a spouse has passed. Is the estate plan still the right fit? Are there children or stepchildren who are having financial issues or divorces that would make an inheritance a problem or put the inherited assets at risk? The surviving spouse may want to direct that property be distributed in a different matter. A trust where a child’s share of the estate was to be left in an ongoing trust with some guidelines on distributions would be better, for example, if a child has an addition or is simply bad with money.

Trust funding should be reviewed and updated, as well.

Beneficiary designations also need to be reviewed for life insurance, retirement accounts, brokerage and bank accounts. They may be in the surviving spouse’s name or are accounts that the spouse inherited from the decedent. If the spouse inherits retirement funds, retirement beneficiary forms need to be reviewed, because the alternate beneficiary on the decedent’s form is no longer applicable.

These are the basics for the newly widowed to start addressing. Some may need more than what is discussed here, while others need less. While this is a difficult time, these matters must be addressed. Your estate planning attorney will be able to guide you.

Reference: The Legal Intelligencer (Sep. 18, 2018) “Estate Planning for Surviving Spouses: What to Do ASAP.”

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