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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

4 Questions to Ask When You Update Your Estate Plan in the New Year

With the arrival of the new year and as the month of January gets underway, did you know many people in Alabama are focusing on how they will reach the resolutions they set?  What resolutions did you set? Did you focus on work or health or family or all three?

No matter what resolutions you choose, we want to let you know that one of the most important New Year’s resolutions you can make this year is to create your Alabama estate plan.  With your Alabama estate plan in place you can protect yourself both during your life and at the time of your death. During your lifetime, by working with your attorney you can create a plan that ensures your choices for your health care and finances are honored by your chosen decision maker. In addition, your attorney will also show you how you can ensure that your family will be provided for when you are no longer here with them. 

Do you already have an estate plan? Great!  If you already have a plan in place, time is of the essence to ensure it reflects your wishes for yourself and your loved ones. During the year many changes can happen within your family, your business, and your finances. It is important to make sure your estate plan remains effective in not only summarizing the desired future for you and your loved ones, but also has the best tools in place to accomplish those goals. 

Ready to get started? Below, let us share four questions to ask yourself and your Alabama estate planning attorney as you work on your Alabama estate plan in the new year.

1. If there have been changes in the law or to my immediate family, should I update my plan? Yes!  Changes in the law and the impact on your estate plan is a good question for your attorney.  Your attorney stays up to date on the latest laws and information that could impact your estate and what changes may need to be made.  In addition, when there is a birth, death, divorce, or other life update, you should make it a priority to contact your attorney to determine if your estate plan needs any updates or significant changes.

2. What does an Alabama estate plan actually do and am I really unprotected if I do not have an Alabama estate plan?  An Alabama estate plan employs a variety of legal planning tools to address how your assets will be managed and distributed in the event of your death or incapacity, among other things.  Yes, you are most certainly unprotected. In the event of a crisis or death, there will be no guidance for your family, your bank, your friends, or the court system. When we do not take the time to create an estate plan the court in Alabama may be required, in order for there to be legal authority for another to act on your behalf. This can be time consuming, costly, and public, and can be avoided by completing your estate planning while you have the capacity to do so. 

3. Is there a good time to get started with creating an estate plan or updating it? Yes, as soon as you possibly can. To maximize the potential benefits that an estate plan has to offer, it is important to put the plan in place sooner rather than later.

4. When I meet my Alabama estate planning attorney for the first time, what will he want to discuss with me? He will want to discuss with you the importance of lifetime planning using tools, such as the durable power of attorney for your finances. He can help you choose your decision maker, as well as back up decision maker, for times of crisis. He may also discuss with you the difference between will based estate planning and trust based estate planning. 

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We want to help you achieve the New Year’s Resolution of having an Alabama estate plan that can meet your needs. While nobody wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it can also spare your loved ones from the expense, delay and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.


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