Birthday Basics

You will never forget your birthday (even though you may want to).

Every time you make another trip around the sun (a year), it is good to reflect on what has changed in your life and what you have accomplished. Estate planning is probably something that rarely is among these thoughts.

Many people think that once they have executed their estate plan, they are done and set for life. Realistically, this is not the case. You, as an individual, are never done growing as a person and your life is never static. Things will always change. Each year, especially throughout 2020, people’s circumstances, financial markets, tax laws, and personal goals all changed.

Since you will never forget it and usually there is some type of celebration to remind you, your birthday is the perfect time to review your estate planning. Think back on the past year and decide whether or not you need to make any modifications to your current plan. Maybe you have no plan in place and want (or more appropriately – NEED) one.

Big life events to think about are: Did you get married? Did you get divorced? Did a spouse pass away? Did you start a business? Did you have a child? Did you move? Did you acquire significant assets? Did you start a new job? Did you start a new hobby that may add some risk to your life?

All these questions and possible changes will affect your estate planning. The changes could be as simple as updating your Power of Attorney or Living Will to reflect new healthcare laws or update your agent. It could be that you want more detailed distribution provisions in your Will. You may need to change your beneficiaries on your non-probate assets such as life insurance policies, annuities, and retirement plans.

This time of reflection on your past year may shed some light on changes that you otherwise wouldn’t think about.

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About the Author

Andrew Bradley is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. and assists in the administration of the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. He holds two Associates Degrees from Camden County College and is a member of the Estate & Financial Planning Council of Southern New Jersey.

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