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Most people in Kansas City right now are wrapped up in the busyness that accompanies the holiday season. They are doing their last minute shopping for that perfect gift, travelling by road or plane to visit relatives, attending religious services and all-in-all they are celebrating what is a special time of year. During the holidays, estate planning may be the furthest thing from their mind. However, just as one may make New Year’s resolutions, the end of the year is a good time to review estate plans.

For some, this year brought many changes, such as a marriage, divorce or the birth of a child or grandchild. These changes should be reflected in an estate plan. For example, people normally do not want their ex to inherit their property or they may want new children or grandchildren to inherit specific property.

Similarly, some assets in an estate plan, such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts, have beneficiary designations. It is important that the right people are named as beneficiaries. If one has a revocable trust it is also important to make sure it contains provisions regarding qualified retirement plans. This is because the trust itself can be selected as the beneficiary on those retirement plans.

If one has a revocable trust, it is also important to make sure that the trust has funds in it. The owner might give careful thought into drafting a trust that meets their goals. However, unless the trust is funded, none of these goals will be met. That is because the only assets subject to the terms of the trust are the assets the trust owns. If the trust does not have any assets in its ownership, the purpose for creating the trust will not be met.

Finally, is important to have a health care power of attorney in an estate plan. This document gives loved ones the information they need regarding medical care wishes should the drafter become incapacitated. The same can be said with regards to a financial power of attorney.

As Kansas City residents can see, the end of the year can be a good time to review an estate plan and tie up any loose ends. Having a solid plan in place brings peace of mind moving forward into 2017.

Source: Think Advisor, “7 Estate Planning Resolutions for Clients to Make Now,” Rose Watson, Esq., Dec. 6, 2016