New Year's Resolutions to Consider
2018 is here, and for many of us the start of a new year is a time to reflect on ways we can make our lives better. If you’re looking for some good New Year’s Resolutions, I have a couple you might consider.
First, I suggest you take a good look at your will. If it’s more than five (5) years old, there’s a good chance that your circumstances in life may have changed. Births, marriages, deaths, retirements and promotions are just some of the events that can alter your decisions about whom you want to leave your property to and/or the amount of property you want them to have.
The laws concerning wills and inheritance don’t change very much from year to year, but court rulings and new legislation can make big differences. Lawyers are responsible for staying up to date on these changes, and they can let you know if something needs to be changed.
Making a few minor changes to a will can be a simple process, but it should be done by either the lawyer who wrote the will in the first place or by another attorney familiar with your situation. Your attorney can let you know if an update is sufficient, or if you need to consider a new will.
If you don’t have a will, the best resolution I can suggest is that you set up an appointment with your attorney as soon as possible and have one written. Dying without a will can cost your family a lot of time and money, while leaving a properly written valid will can save them time and money. As I said in an earlier blog, a will may be the greatest gift you give your loved ones.
A second New Year’s Resolution is to talk to your lawyer about having an advance directive and/or a power of attorney prepared for you. An advance directive spells out your specific wishes to be carried out if you become temporarily or permanently incapable of making health care decisions for yourself. It also includes the names of the person or persons you want to act on your behalf under these circumstances.
Your attorney can also prepare a power of attorney that will authorize the person or persons you list to handle your financial and other affairs if you are unable to do so. These documents give them legal authority to handle important issues at a critical time in the future. For example, a power of attorney can give your family member access to information from your mortgage company and other debts in order to determine what must be done about them.
While it can be very hard to face these difficult issues, it’s much better to face these questions now and not wait until you are no longer legally capable of doing so. And these documents may give your family comfort when they know they are doing what you wanted them to do.
Both of these resolutions are simple and easy, and they can make 2018 a better year for you and your family.