all make New Year’s resolutions.  The
start of the New Year is a natural time to reflect about all that is important
to us and our plans for the future.  One
area worth reflection is whether your affairs are in order as we come into 2014.  Let us consider some issues worth examining.

you have an estate plan that protects you and your family should you became
incapacitated and, ultimately, when you die?
If not, then you clearly have serious thinking to do.  Who will step in should you become
incapacitated to control your financial, property, and health careArrow
decisions?  If you have minor children,
who will care for them if you are gone? How will your estate be settled when
you die?   Will your heirs have to deal
with probate because you have assets that are collectively worth more than

your existing estate planningArrow reflect your current needs?  Life events such as divorce, deaths, and
births are among the most common changes to the family picture.  The longer it has been since your estate
planning documents were prepared, the more likely it is that they need to be reviewed
and revised. 

of date documents may have adverse consequences to you and your family when actually
needed.  Fixing the situation now — when
you are still able to do so without any compulsion — is much less worrisome
and costly in the bigger scheme.  Some
things cannot even be fixed later.

your existing estate planningArrow documents reflect the current state of the
law?  For example, does your existing living
trust still require a two trust division at the death of the first spouse, even
though the estate tax exemption amount is now $5,250,000?  If so, then unnecessary extra legal work,
expense, and complications may arise.

          Even without
changes affecting you and your family, is your existing estate plan as drafted
sufficient to your needs?   If you are
not comfortable that your documents are sufficiently flexible to address both
foreseen and even some unforeseen possibilities that are not unrealistic, then
you may wish to revisit your estate plan.

one should review estate planningArrow documents at least once every five (5) years,
sooner if there are compelling changes relating to you, your family and
relevant laws. 

and apprehension over one’s mortality are common reasons why people
indefinitely postpone getting their affairs in order.  Don’t delay.
It is far easier to get your affairs in order when you have no
compulsion to do so and when times are easy, as opposed to in an emergency when
others may have to go to court on your behalf.
Start 2014 by getting your affairs in order; this provides immediate peace
of mind for you and greatly reduced stress on your loved ones in the future.

“Serving Lake and Mendocino Counties for nineteen years, the Law Office of Dennis Fordham focuses on legacy and estate planning, trust and probate administration, and special needs planning. We are here for you. 870 South Main Street Lakeport, California 95453-4801. Phone: 707-263-3235.”