“If you find yourself one of the successful snowbirds that we all envy, you may have already begun packing clothes and other necessities. Your car’s oil is likely changed, and you will not pull out of the driveway without a full tank of gas.”
Not everyone travels south for the winter in September. Many like to wait until after the holidays, so they don’t miss out on family gatherings. Then, on New Year’s Day or shortly thereafter, off they go, heading to a warm, sunny climate to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
If that’s your annual schedule, congratulations. However, before you go, advises LimaOhio.com in the article “Extra checklist before heading south for the winter,” make sure you’ve taken care of some personal legal business. It’s just four items—but they are very important tasks for snowbirds.
First, make sure that your general/financial power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney documents have been updated. Does your family have copies of these documents? Or do they have 24/7 access through a portal from your estate planning law firm?
Some law firms provide laminated cards for clients to give to family and friends that gives the holders of the cards access to these powers, while clients are out of town. Others are starting to use encrypted thumb drives, so that clients have documents wherever they go. Make sure you have these documents and that the people who will need them, either have them or can get them in a moment’s notice.
Second, review your living will with your estate planning attorney. Update them, if changes need to be made and get copies to your children and/or friends.
Third, make sure that your last will and testament is updated. Have you had any big changes in your life since the last time it was reviewed? Marriages, deaths, divorces, births and adoptions are the typical “trigger” events that signal a need for review. Who will have that document? If your Cincinnati estate planning attorney maintains original copies for clients, then make sure to have another original on your person or safely secured with a loved one.
Lastly, and this takes a little time but is well worth doing, create a list of all your assets. Make sure they are properly titled for your situation. Should you have all your bank accounts become Payable on Death to your spouse? When was the last time you checked your beneficiary designations? Chances are good there are beneficiary designations on your bank, investment, and retirement accounts and on your life insurance policies. Wherever you have a beneficiary designation, you should also have a contingency beneficiary.
Once you’ve gotten all your estate planning properly addressed, you’ll be able to enjoy the holidays and your warm weather fun, knowing you’ve taken care of these important matters.
Speak with your Cincinnati estate planning attorney about making charitable giving part of your overall estate plan and maximizing the impact that your giving can have on your tax burden. It’s a win-win for you and the causes that matter to you.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. ” When making your estate plan or when probating an estate or administering a trust, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage a Cincinnati estate planning attorney.
Reference: LimaOhio.com (Oct. 13, 2018) “Extra checklist before heading south for the winter”