Well folks, I know it's hard to believe but another year has come and gone. If you are a regular reader, you know that I reserve my last column of the year for a sort of year in review. I hope that if I spend a few minutes reviewing my year and considering how it might affect my estate plan, you will spend a few minutes thinking about your year and how it might effect yours.
Well the most important thing that I have to report is that no one in my immediate family passed away in 2017. I hope that I'm not tempting fate because I'm writing this a few days before the end of the year, but so far, so good. In the past couple of years I have lost my father and one of my brothers. The fact that I'm not having to come to terms with the loss of a close loved one is good news after the past few years. Although this doesn't affect my estate plan, I consider this an important non-event and is well worth spending a few minutes acknowledging it.
Another important thing to occur this year is that my oldest son is in his senior year of high school and has been applying to colleges. So far he has been accepted to all of the colleges that he has applied too. Unfortunately he still needs to audition to the colleges' schools of music so he may not know where he is going until the spring. In addition to entering his senior year in high school and applying to colleges, Colin celebrated his 18th birthday. Now I feel old.
Both of these things have an effect on my estate plan. First, there is the obvious effect of my son, and a lot of my money, leaving my home in less than a year. That change requires a definite review of my plan. Also, since Colin is 18, he is no longer a minor. That means that my ability to make decisions for him is severely limited. With that in mind, Colin executed a power of attorney and appointment of a healthcare representative in favor of Trish and I. That way if something bad happens, we can help our now adult son out. This one is important folks. When your kids turn 18, they are no longer minors so make sure you have something in place just in case.
Other than those two major events, and the one non-event, it has been a pretty quiet year. However, the twins started high school in 2017 so this lull may be short lived.
Now it's your turn. Take a few minutes and think about your year. Have there been any additions to your family? Have you lost anyone due to death or divorce. Have you switched jobs or possibly retired? The things that you should pay attention to are those life changing events that we sometimes experience. If you have had one of those, it may be time to blow the dust off the old estate plan and take a look.
Fortunately most estate plans are drafted anticipating changes so even though you have experienced a life changing event, nothing may need to done to address it. However, you aren't going to know that until you take a look at the plan. Make this your new year's resolution.
Happy New Year from my family to yours.
Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at www.nwi.com. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.