Reviewing Your Estate Plans – Make It a New Year’s Resolution

Reviewing documents

The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to review and update your estate plans. Doing this now will help to protect your family and your assets later.

If you have a will, update it. If you don't, draft one! More than half of American adults don’t have a will. Your will should name a guardian for anyone under 18, and you’ll also want to name a trusted person as executor of your estate. Review your will every few years, or whenever there’s a life event, such as a birth, marriage or divorce.

Update your beneficiaries. Did you know that the beneficiaries listed on your 401(k), insurance policies, retirement accounts and investments trump your will? Review your designations every few years and be sure to choose a contingent beneficiary. Otherwise, if your primary beneficiary dies before you do, your funds will go to your estate, which can create tax and legal issues.

Assign a power of attorney. There are two types: financial power of attorney, which lets someone take care of things such as writing checks; and medical power of attorney, which allows someone to make decisions about your health care. Without this form, your loved ones might have to go to court to handle simple estate matters if you were to become incapacitated.

Organize your paperwork. Do you know where your insurance policies, brokerage and 401(k) statements, and mortgage papers are? If you’re not sure, you can bet your loved ones won’t be able to find them when they need to, either. Put everything together in one place and then tell a family member where that is.

To receive an Estate Information Organizer where you can record all this important information for your loved ones, please contact us at

Questions? We’re happy to help. Contact David Toll, senior associate vice president, Drexel University Office of Gift Planning, at 215.895.1882 or

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