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Planner’s Tip: Re-Examining your Estate Planning

By Katie Sanders, CLU®, CFP®

With tax season behind us and summer travel ahead, now is a great time to review your Estate Planning documents! While big changes may be unlikely from year to year, we find that some people go years without reviewing these documents – or they’ve not pulled them out since the documents were initially executed. A full evaluation with your Estate Planning may be in order if it’s been several years, but here’s what we recommend reviewing before you hit the road for your next trip:

  • Do you know where your original copies are? While an original may not be needed in some instances (more on that below!), we recommend pulling out the original copies to ensure you have access and no documents are missing. It would also be a great idea to let your Personal Representative, Trustee, Power of Attorney, or other trusted individual know where you keep the originals in case of an emergency (and also send them a copy for their records!).
  • Is your Durable Power of Attorney recorded? The school of thought has changed on recording these documents: Previously, people were hesitant to record a durable power of attorney with the county since they wanted to keep the information private. Now, we see more and more attorneys recommending that you record with the county clerk’s office. The advantages include helping to prevent fraud since another entity can verify the Power is valid and enforceable. Another advantage is that if your Durable POA is recorded, then your agent can provide a copy of the original document when making decisions on your behalf since the copy would denote land records/register of deeds information at the time of recording.
    • If you are unsure if your Durable Power of Attorney is properly recorded, you can reach out to your Estate Planning attorney to double check. Our team is also happy to assist you in verifying.
  • Review Key Roles. It’s best practice to periodically check who is listed in key roles within your various estate planning documents. Circumstances may have changed, or people may no longer be able to serve in these roles. It’s always great to double-check who you have listed as alternates/successors in the following positions, too:
    • Personal Representative
    • Guardian (for minor children)
    • Trustee
    • Durable Power of Attorney
    • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • File your Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will. Most healthcare systems will allow you to put these documents on file. You can either upload them to your patient portal or bring a copy to your next appointment, so that in case of emergency, your healthcare providers know who to contact!

The above are just a few suggestions to get you started! If you’d like to discuss further, our team is here to help. We can even connect you with an estate planning attorney if you find that your documents need to be updated.

Shannon Dermody

Shannon DermodyTEST

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