It’s 2020! Time to make those personal resolutions for the new year. As you work through your To Do list, Brian M. Douglas & Associates has some advice about estate planning projects you can tackle this year.

Create a Secure Filing System

If you collect and store all of your important estate planning documents in one place, it can help streamline the estate planning process later on. Gather all of the following documents (if applicable): birth certificate, social security card, military discharge paperwork, property deeds, marriage license, divorce decree. You should also maintain an updated list of any bank accounts, as well as the contact information for your accountant and insurance agent. Once you have collected these documents and found a safe place to store them, be sure to let your family know where the file is stored. It will help avoid confusion and stress if your family needs to access any of your important paperwork.

Review Any Existing Estate Planning Documents

An estate plan contains “living” documents such as your will, power of attorney, and advance directive for health care. That means that as changes happen within your family or business, your estate plan should change as well. It is a good idea to revisit your estate planning documents every few years to make sure those plans reflect your current personal wishes and financial goals.

Make Sure Your Beneficiary Designations Are Updated

Just like with your estate plan, you want to make sure that your beneficiary designations are also up to date. Most people have designations on their life insurance policies, IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities, and other common retirement accounts. You should review these documents periodically — especially after a significant life event such as a marriage, divorce, having children, or experiencing a death in the family. As with your other estate planning documents, your beneficiary designations should reflect your current family structure and your personal wishes for protecting your loved ones.

Save Your Online Passwords

It can be nearly impossible to remember all of your digital IDs and passwords. Many people have a long list of online accounts, including social media, file storage, banking, and shopping. However, family members should know how to access your accounts in case of an emergency. Some choose to write all of this information down and keep it in a safe storage space. Others use a phone app to store that information. Either method is fine, as long as you are able to record and update the account details.

Discuss Your Estate Plans with Family and Loved Ones

After you have developed an estate plan, it is important to let your loved ones and your family know your wishes. While the topic may seem awkward at first, just remember that you are working to ensure that the succession process is as stress-free and straightforward as possible for your family. Talking to them means that they will have a better idea of your wishes, and they will know how and where to access critical information in case of an emergency. For more advice about talking to your family about estate plans, you can read our blog Discussing Estate Plans Over The Holidays.

Contact the Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys at Brian M. Douglas & Associates

While there are a number of D.I.Y. estate plan options online, hiring an experienced attorney at the start of your estate planning process can help avoid expensive mistakes and future disputes. At Brian M. Douglas & Associates, we can discuss Georgia’s estate planning and probate laws, as well as asset protection, selecting the right estate executor, and guardianship for your children. You can contact our office at (770) 933-9009 or via our website.