Start the New Year off Right

Get your estate plan in order this year.

The beginning of a new year is an exciting time; a time for personal reflection and a time to set new goals for the year ahead. As many of us find ourselves freshly motivated to tackle our to-do lists, the team at Guttman Law wants to remind you that getting your estate in order (or ensuring that your plans are up-to-date) is one of the most important items you can check off your list this year.

2021 goals

Whether you’ve just begun to think about creating an estate plan or you’ve had a will or living trust in place for many years, ensuring your estate is in order is an important matter.

If You’re Just Beginning to Consider Estate Planning

You’re not alone. Although most of us realize that estate planning is important, it can also feel like an overwhelming task. According to recent studies, less than ⅓ of Americans surveyed reported having a will or other estate planning documents in place.

Research Your Options

While the internet can be a great place to begin researching the tools available and the estate planning professionals in your area, be wary of online estate planning tools and services. “Online estate planning tools attempt to create a one-size-fits-all will or trust.  These types of programs often do not meet a person’s individual needs.” cautions attorney Matt Guttman. “Estate plans created online may be missing key provisions and documents, and may give a person a false sense of security.  Additionally, many mistakes or issues likely go undetected and may only be discovered when it is too late.”

Speak with a Professional

The best place to begin gathering information to help you decide what kind of planning actually makes sense for you and your loved ones is by speaking with an estate planning professional. The experienced attorneys at Guttman Law are happy to offer a no-cost, no-obligation Zoom or phone consultation to answer your questions and discuss the tools available to address your unique circumstances. Click here to request your complimentary estate planning consultation.

If Your Plan is Relatively New (1-2 Years)

If you have a relatively new estate plan, congratulations! We’re always glad to hear that Minnesotans are planning for the future. To ensure your plan will function as it was intended to, our attorneys have a few recommendations:

Inform Your Loved Ones

Failing to share our plans with our loved ones is a common estate planning error. If you’ve taken the time to document your wishes, it’s important to make sure that the people you want to care for you or settle your estate understand those wishes and are equipped to carry out your plan.

Taking the time to communicate your goals and wishes with your loved ones now can also help to avoid conflict and confusion in the future. By explaining what will happen once you’re gone, you can avoid catching loved ones off guard during an already stressful time. 

It’s also important that your loved ones know where to find your estate planning documents when they are needed and who (your estate planning attorney) they can call if they have questions or concerns.

Examine Your Assets (if you have a Living Trust)

If you have created a revocable living trust, it’s important to make sure that your assets are owned the right way.

“I often tell clients to think of a living trust as a box,” says attorney Matt Guttman. “The living trust is just an empty box until you place your assets inside. Once you do, the box can help to protect those assets.”

If your assets are NOT owned the correct way, your living trust may not function how you and your attorney intended for it to function.

If Your Plan Is Older (3-5 years)

If it’s been more than 3 years since you created or last reviewed your estate plan, it’s likely that you’re due for a review. Routine checkups help to ensure your plan is in good shape and still reflects your wishes for the future.

“It’s a good idea to review your estate plan every 3 to 5 years to make sure changes in your life are always reflected in your plans,” says attorney Matt Guttman.

As a general rule, any time a major life change occurs, it’s a good idea to check in with your estate planning attorney. Changes in your assets, beneficiaries, the birth or death of a family member, or changes in the law may all warrant adjustments to your plan.

Schedule a Complimentary Review

Whether you’re an existing client or created a plan with a different firm, the attorneys at Guttman Law are happy to help you determine if your plan still meets your needs. To schedule a complimentary phone or Zoom review, contact our team at (612) 324-4055 or fill out our online form.

Happy New Year from Guttman Law PLLC!

Whatever your goals for the year ahead may be, the team at Guttman Law wishes you a happy, healthy, and productive New Year!