Each New Year we set resolutions that we try to keep. Most of us fall short of the goals we seek to accomplish. Resolve instead this year to take a proactive approach for asset protection. There are many simple steps that we can take in 2014 to make things easier for our spouses, our families, and ourselves in the future. These small steps include things as simple as becoming more organized, reviewing your beneficiary designations, and having your documents reviewed by an experienced Elder Law attorney.
The first step is to become more organized. Place all of your important documents (such as legal, insurance, retirement, and military papers) in one easy-to-access place. Keep usernames and passwords for all of your financial accounts in a secure place (but known to a trusted person), as most people no longer receive paper statements with this information. If you organize your important documents, then your loved ones will have a general idea of your assets and liabilities in the event that you become ill.
Next, review the beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, annuities, and retirement accounts (such as an IRA, 401k, or 403b). If your spouse has recently died, or you have divorced, then make sure that an appropriate person is listed as the beneficiary of these assets. You do not want your money to end up in your probate estate or with your ex-spouse. Life insurance is protected against creditors, so it will pass to any listed beneficiaries even if you owe money; don’t let this money pass into your estate if you are subject to creditors.
Finally, make an appointment to have your legal documents reviewed. If you have young children, you must have the right documents in place. Those who are 70+ should have their documents reviewed by an experienced Elder Law attorney. Every family’s needs are different, but seniors have additional concerns that younger people lack, such as asset protection and long term care planning. For this reason, seniors require more than just boilerplate documents.
If you or a loved one need help carrying out your asset protection resolution this New Year, contact an experienced Elder Law attorney today. Call W.G. Alexander & Associates to make an appointment. You can also attend our free seminars on these issues and learn more through our website at www.wgalaw.com or call us at (919) 256-7000.