Tag: Wills

how often should you revisit your will

How Often Should You Revisit Your Will?

For many important reasons, anyone with any assets at all should have a will. It’s a common misconception that wills are expensive, or that a lawyers assistance is required in the creation of a will. Yet others may simply take a passive stance, stating that writing a will is something they just haven’t ‘gotten around to, yet’.

While there are some kernels of truth in many will-related misconceptions (for example, complex wills may require the involvement of an estate planning attorney to form), there simply is no good reason not to have a will. 

Any time someone dies without a will, they are considered to be ‘intestate’. Intestacy can be confusing and frustrating for the family and rightful heirs of the deceased, as they will be invariably forced into dealing with the state probate court to have all of the assets distributed according to equal heirship stakes. 

This situation often goes against what would have been the wishes of the deceased. However, a will cannot be written after death, even by someone who has power of attorney for the deceased. 

Not many of us enjoy talking about death. It’s a subject that most of us avoid, which is completely understandable. However, there are several very good reasons why having an active will should be high on your priority list. 

Not only is having a will a smart idea, it’s also good practice to revisit your will to make changes as your life situation changes. At Kokish and Goldmanis, PC, we specialize in providing estate planning services tailored to the lives of our clients—lives that evolve and transform as the years go on. 

For this reason, we highly suggest revisiting your will. As for the question of how often this should be done, the answer depends on a few factors. 

Revisit Your Will After These Events

Generally speaking, any significant change to your assets, marital status, or family relationship qualifies as a good reason to reevaluate your will. 

Common life events that alter your relationship with someone else can be good reasons to update your will. Some of these life events might include: 

  • Having a child
  • Adopting a child
  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced
  • Severing ties with a family member
  • Making amends with a family member

Even if none of these have happened to you in the recent past, a good rule-of-thumb for revisiting a will is once every three to five years. 

Why is this? 

It’s because our lives can undergo changes that we aren’t consciously aware of until multiple years have passed. An example might be buying a car to fix up as a hobby, and then storing it in a shed and forgetting about it. Another example might be acquiring expensive jewelry and then ‘rediscovering’ it during spring cleaning. 

how often should you revisit your will 2

Assets come and go in our lives for a multitude of reasons. New jobs (or job losses), sweepstakes winnings (or bankruptcies), paid-off mortgages (or loan defaults) all contribute to our overall asset scenario. That’s why dusting off your will for a once-over makes sense to do every three-to-five years or so.

Other Things to Consider During a Will Update

Has a close member of your family fallen into dire illness? If this person is named as an heir in your will, it might be worth reconsidering how you’d like those assets to be reassigned.

The same goes for legal guardians or will executors you may have determined in the prior version of your will.

Remember that minor changes to a will can often be made without having to completely rewrite the will itself. These changes can include adding or removing an heir, changing the status of a specific asset, or something similar. Often, the use of something called a codicil serves this purpose.

You can think of a codicil as being a minor amendment to a will.

Larger, more extensive changes to a will are best made through a complete rewriting of the will. Whether or not this is something that you will needs should be addressed on a case-by-case basis. 

For Legal Help with Estate Planning, Contact Us

Our goal at Kokish and Golmanis, PC is to make estate planning simple, straightforward, and easy for our clients. 

Regardless how many iterations your will has seen in past years, we can help ensure that it reflects your current wishes for how you’d like your estate to be handled after your death. 

To learn more about how we can help, contact our office today.

How Estate Planning Helps Fight COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is on everyone’s mind and you can’t turn on the television without being reminded. Did you know that your trust and estate attorney has tools that help to protect you and your family? Estate law firms use these tools every day to protect clients and the tools can be very helpful during these stressful times.

HIPAA Compliance
Be HIPAA Compliant!

As a wills and estate attorney making these solutions available to clients is critical to the work of estate law firms. What are these tools and how can they help you?

Your first step should be to ensure all of your estate planning documents are HIPAA compliant. This is critical for powers of attorney, medical directives and all health care documents. You should also have a stand alone HIPAA Authorization.

HIPAA compliance is of utmost importance during any medical situation especially emergencies. The reason you create these documents is so the decision makers you choose are recognized in case of any emergency. This is even more important for any of your children over the age of 18 in order for you to have access to them in case of emergencies and guide their care.

Make sure your plan consists of the following basic components:

  1. A testamentary documents such as a trust or will.
  2. Durable financial power of attorney.
  3. Durable health care power of attorney.
  4. HIPAA Authorization.
  5. Living Will.
  6. Funeral instructions such as Colorado’s final disposition statement.
  7. Make sure ALL documents are HIPAA compliant.

Remember this is the basic list and your particular situation may require additional documents and planning. Be careful out there, be vigilant wash your hands and we will all get through this together.

The Gift of Estate Planning

HIPAA Compliance

Many articles have been published about the gift of estate planning. In fact, it is one of the most important gifts you can give to your family and loved ones. A well crafted estate plan represents part of your legacy and how you will be remembered. How you would like to be remembered when you are gone and does your estate plan reflect those wishes?

Why can estate planning be such important gift for your family? Consider these benefits your family receives from your well thought out plan:

1. Protection for your spouse from creditors and predators. Are you leaving a plan which exposes your spouse to risk or protects them?

2. Protection of children from the over indulgence of youth, protection from creditors and protection against predators. Does your plan for your children provide these protections?

3. Inclusion of grandchildren or other family members who are disabled. Such issues should be considered in every plan. Are they addressed i yours?

4. Asset and probate planning. Do your assets create problems and are these issues addressed in your estate plan?

5. HIPAA compliance. Protection of your health information is important in our electronic age. Is your entire plan and all documents HIPAA compliant? If not it needs to be.

6. How recently have your reviewed your plan? Plans older than 5-7 years may create unexpected traps and negative results for your family. Has your plan been reviewed recently?

Does your current plan provide these benefits to your family? Now you know why estate planning is one of the best gifts for your family not only at the holiday season but also year round.

3 (Of Many) Reasons Why Estate Planning is Not Only for the Wealthy

Before I became an estate planning, I did not fully understand the importance of having an estate plan.  I thought that estate planning was only for the wealthy.  Nothing can be further from the truth!
So, here are 3 reasons why you should consider meeting with an estate planning attorney, regardless of your wealth:
1. You have children under the age of 18.
A good estate plan protects your children from an uncertain future.  For example, a comprehensive estate plan for families with young children will include an Appointment of Guardian, which allows you to nominate a guardian to care for your children when you die or become incapacitated and are unable to care for them.  They also include an Authorization for Care of Minor Children, which allows you to appoint an another adult to temporarily care for and make decisions on behalf of your minor children when you are on vacation, unavailable, or become incapacitated.
2. To appoint decision makers to take care of you and your finances should you become unable to do so.
Not all estate planning concerns death.  For example, power of attorney documents are important estate planning tools.  These documents allow you to name people you trust (agents) to make medical and financial decisions for you while you alive, but are unable, or don’t want to, make such decisions for yourself.
3. The State in which you live has already created an estate plan for you.
All 50 states, and the District of Columbia, have laws that dictate how your property will be distributed after you die.  These laws are called the laws of intestacy and apply when you die without a will.  These laws may not match how you want your property to be distributed after your death.
Greta Suneson