Over the coming weeks, you will frequently hear the phrase “New Year, New You!” “New Year, New You!” can be the inspiration some people need to take on their goals head-on, but it can also serve as a somber reminder of past aspirations that were abandoned. All too frequently, you remember that you intended to finish your estate plan this year during the period between the holidays and the new year.

It turns out that you’ll finish your estate plan in the coming year. Without a doubt, next year! Right?

As the new year approaches, use the following guide to take the first steps towards attaining your estate planning goals and step into the new year feeling empowered.

Do I Even Need An Estate Plan This Year?

The simple answer? Yes. 

Every adult needs to have an estate plan in place in the event of incapacity or death. Depending on the stage of life you’re in right now, your estate plan might look different. You need an estate plan whether you are a college student transitioning into adulthood, a new parent, or a single person retiring with your cat.

How Do I Even Begin Thinking About My Estate Plan?

The first step is making a list of your estate planning priorities. Some people use their estate plan to create a safety net for their minor children, while those without minor children wish to focus their estate plan around charitable giving. People with health concerns may prioritize future health decisions or end-of-life care. Tailor your estate plan around your priorities.

Often, people experience an estate planning trigger that provides a jumping-off point for their prioritizing.

What Are The Estate Planning Triggers?

An estate planning trigger is a significant life event or financial change that would change your priorities or estate planning needs. Use the new year to reflect on the previous twelve months. What major life events have occurred? 

The following list is a guide for which life changes might dictate a necessary change to your current estate plan or the creation of a new estate plan:

  • Marriage, divorce, or remarriage
  • The birth or adoption of a child, grandchild, or great-grandchild
  • The death of a spouse or another family member
  • The illness or disability of you, your spouse, or another family member
  • A child or grandchild reaching the age of majority
  • Sizable changes in the value of assets you own
  • The sale or purchase of a principal residence or second home
  • The retirement of you or your spouse
  • Receipt of a large gift or inheritance

Keep Calm And Have A Back-up Plan

The past few years have taught us that life is not guaranteed. An estate plan is an ongoing investment into your health, wealth, and family stability. As such, your estate plan will change, often unpredictably, throughout your lifetime. When choosing an attorney to assist you with your estate plan, you must consider the ongoing maintenance that the plan will require. Having a maintenance plan will allow you to use each new year as a checkpoint for your estate plan so that you may easily reflect, review, and reprioritize.

As this year closes, leave your overwhelm behind and take those first steps toward empowerment.