2007-02-02 / Columnists

Spotlight On Elderlaw

Personal And Estate Planning For 2007
Commentary By Nancy J. Brady, RN, Esq. And Linda Faith Marshak, Esq.

Personal And Estate Planning For 2007

Commentary By Nancy J. Brady, RN, Esq.
And Linda Faith Marshak, Esq.

So it's February, and you haven't lost those ten (twenty) pounds, started that exercise program or signed up to volunteer in that soup kitchen - you still have time for those things. Here are some resolutions you should stick to early in 2007- when gathering your information together for your accountant you should take the time to check the following:

Take advantage of the new tax credits - if you've made any energy efficient improvements to your home, or purchased a hybrid automobile, check with your CPA to see if any of the new deductions or credits are available.

Get the most out of your savings- make sure you are contributing enough to your 401K- for people under age 50, the maximum amount is $15,000; over age 50 the maximum is $20,000. You should also take advantage of the more competitive rates being offered for short term savings accounts as well-between 4-5% is typical for some of the online banking accounts being offered.

Schedule an appointment to review your portfolio and 401K's progress with your financial advisor. The advisor can make suggestions regarding reallocation of your assets to meet your goals.

Total up your net worth, and make sure your estate plan is adequate for the value of your estate (combined estate if you are married). If you have a Will, review it, and make sure it says what you want it to say. Is the document you have the original? If not, do you know where the original is? Is the original in a safe place, easily accessible to your executor? If your children are still minors, have you named guardians and trustees? If your children were minors when the Will was executed but are now adults, do you want to make changes to the named executors? Is there a credit shelter clause in your Will? Do you need a trust in your Will for any of your beneficiaries?

Take a look at your health care proxy and living will. Are the forms valid New York State forms, executed and witnessed properly? Do they reflect your wishes regarding end of life care? Is the person you named as your agent still available to act on your behalf? Do you still want that person to be your agent? If you don't have a health care proxy at all, there's no time like the present to get it done. Hopefully you'll never need to use it, but if you are in that situation, your loved ones will be grateful to have the documents available.

Review your Power of Attorney documents. Are the forms outdated? Is the agent you selected to represent you for financial transactions still the person(s) you would like to act for you, and have access to your assets? Does the agent know you have named him/her, and have access to the documents for emergencies? Do you have an extensive Power of Attorney form that expands on the somewhat limited statutory form?

Taking these steps will get you on the right track towards meeting your retirement and estate planning goals! The attorneys can be reached at 718-945-7777.

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