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Make estate planning part of your healthy New Year's resolutions

Every year many of us make a New Year's resolution or two usually regarding our physical health. Some want to lose weight and exercise more, or perhaps cut down on some particular food group, but what about your financial health, isn't that important too? There are a number of steps we can take to better plan for our future financial health as well as our families by resolving to establish an estate plan this year.

There are steps each of us can take now to improve our overall financial health, from reviewing our credit report for accuracy to starting an automatic savings plan to get us on track for the future. But what may be even more important is a checkup on our current estate plan, including beneficiaries on investment and savings accounts as well as reviewing our life insurance amounts and stated beneficiaries. If you do not have an estate plan, it should be a priority for you and your loved ones to create one.

At the very minimum and estate plan should include a will or trust and power of attorney named to take care of your finances and healthcare decisions should you become incapacitated. A living will or advanced healthcare directive is something everyone should have not just the elderly or those stricken with a debilitating illness. Many events in life happen when they are least expected. Not having proper documentation to handle many if not all of your affairs can make a difficult time that much more stressful for family members.

If you have minor children it is important to set up a testamentary trust for their finances and choose a trusted guardian who will raise them should it be required. Estate planning is much more than just managing a high-net worth estate as it involves so many more issues than estate taxes and inheritance. Let the New Year be your reminder to review your estate plan for proper fitness and if you don't have one in place, begin the process now, your family and loved ones will thank you.

Source: El Dorado Springs Sun, "7 Tips For Keeping Your Financial Fitness Resolution," Rick Rodgers, Jan. 3, 2013

Our Delaware County, Pennsylvania law firm handles a wide range of estate planning matters, including estate tax planning, wills and trusts as discussed in this year's first post on our blog.

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