Estate Planning

Planning for Special Circumstances

Estate Planning for the Unexpected

by Rania Combs

I read an article last week that served as a sobering reminder of why it’s crucial to plan for the unexpected.

The article was about a Pennsylvania couple vacationing in Florida with their six children.  The parents were caught in a riptide, and despite the efforts of lifeguards and emergency responders, both tragically drowned.

This heartbreaking incident shows that life can change in an instant. It’s also why I recommend reviewing your plans periodically, especially before going on vacation.

Below is a step-by-step action plan to take before you travel to ensure your documents are current and still accomplishing your estate planning goals:

Review Your Will and Trusts

  • Update Beneficiaries: Ensure that the beneficiaries named in your will and any trusts are still appropriate. This includes checking for any new family members, such as children or grandchildren, who should be included.
  • Executor and Trustee: Verify that the individuals you’ve designated as executor and trustee are still willing and able to serve in these roles. If necessary, appoint new individuals.

Reevaluate Guardianship Designations

  • Children’s Guardians: Confirm that the guardians you’ve designated for your minor children are still the best choice. Discuss your wishes with them to ensure they are still willing and able to take on this responsibility.
  • Backup Guardians: It’s also wise to name backup guardians in case the primary guardians are unable to serve.

Update Financial and Healthcare Powers of Attorney

  • Financial Power of Attorney: Ensure that your designated agent for financial matters is still the best choice and is aware of their responsibilities.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: Review and update your healthcare or medical power of attorney. Make sure your designated agent understands your healthcare wishes and is prepared to act on your behalf.

Review Beneficiary Designations

  • Retirement Accounts and Life Insurance: Check the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and any other accounts with named beneficiaries to ensure they align with your current wishes.
  • Payable-on-Death (POD) and Transfer-on-Death (TOD) Accounts: Verify that the beneficiaries on any POD or TOD accounts are up to date.

Assess Your Life Insurance Needs

  • Coverage Amount: Review your life insurance coverage to ensure it is sufficient to meet your family’s needs in the event of your death.
  • Policy Beneficiaries: Make sure the beneficiaries listed on your life insurance policies are current.

Organize and Secure Important Documents

  • Document Location: Ensure all important documents, including your will, trusts, powers of attorney, and insurance policies, are organized and accessible to your designated representatives.
  • Digital Copies: Consider keeping digital copies of your documents in a secure, accessible location.

Communicate with Your Loved Ones

  • Discuss Plans: Have open discussions with your loved ones about your estate plan, your wishes, and the responsibilities of your designated representatives.
  • Emergency Contacts: Provide your family with a list of key contacts, including your attorney, financial advisor, and insurance agent.

Schedule a Professional Review

  • Consult with an Attorney: Schedule a meeting with your estate planning attorney to review and update your plan. They can provide expert advice and ensure all legal requirements are met.
  • Regular Updates: Establish a routine for regular reviews of your estate plan, such as annually or after major life events.

Taking these steps now can provide reassurance that, even in the face of unexpected tragedies, you have done everything possible to safeguard your family’s future.

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

Learn more about how we can help you.

Get Started

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *