This year, the holidays may be a little more stressful than in previous years due to the skyrocketing cost of living. However, this doesn’t stop many families from giving large gifts during the holidays, even if that means saving up all year. Or, a holiday gift may not necessarily be expensive but hold great sentimental value. Maybe you’ve never created an estate plan and the holidays are reminding you just how important it is to create a safety net for your family if you pass away. Or maybe you need to make changes to legal documents that have nothing to do with assets. Read on to learn more about changes you may want to make to your estate plan after the holidays. For your free consultation with one of our dedicated Arizona estate planning lawyers, call 480-448-9800.
Chevrolet, Toyota, and other major car manufacturers portray their vehicles as normal presents to give and receive during the holidays. While a brand new vehicle is out of most people’s holiday gifting budgets, it may be a good time of year to gift a vehicle if you were planning to do so anyway. You should always be sure that the recipient will be able to afford the auto insurance and other expenses that come from a new vehicle before gifting. If you receive a vehicle as a gift during the holidays, you should consider adding it to your estate plan. You may want to make sure that in the event of your death, it goes back to the person who gave it to you. Or, depending on your family’s needs, the vehicle could be a perfect fit for your child or parent. Maybe you want to donate your vehicle to a charitable organization. No matter your intention, a vehicle is large enough of an asset to consider making changes to your estate plan.
Giving pets as gifts can be a tricky issue- they are a huge responsibility, and the recipient may want to choose a pet on their own. However, if a family is already planning on getting a pet, the holidays may be the perfect time to take the plunge.
One of the most important functions of a will is to assign someone as a legal guardian for your children if you pass away while they are still minors. While it doesn’t operate the same way for pets in estate planning, you may still want to make plans for a new pet should you pass away or become incapacitated. Pets are considered property, so you can “leave” them to your friends and family. You should always discuss this issue with that person before leaving your pets to them in your will. You should also consider a backup recipient for your pets in case your first choice isn’t in a position to care for your pets if you pass away. However, many breeders and rescue organizations have clauses in their adoption contracts that require the dog to be returned rather than transferred around from owner to owner. Most of the time, these organizations won’t sue someone for having their child or friend take over their pet’s care after their passing. However, it could be an issue if the deceased’s family takes their rescue dog to a different organization and the dog ends up euthanized. Whomever you choose as a pet’s guardian should be aware of such contracts if they are ever in a position where the dog needs to be surrendered. This can also be included in your will.
Some people take planning for their pet’s care after their death a step further. Some pets may have very expensive food and veterinary costs, so their owners also want to provide for their financial care in the event of their passing. That might mean leaving funds or an asset to the pet guardian, especially under the condition that the person keeps and cares for the pet. It could also mean creating a trust for the pet’s care, with any leftover funds going to a loved one or a charitable organization. Contact an Arizona estate planning lawyer for more information at 480-448-9800.
If my boyfriend got me the moissanite stud earrings I asked for, I probably don’t need to worry about putting them in a will. But the platinum gold pear-shaped diamond ring with a hidden halo that better be coming at some point in the future might be a different story. If you receive a gift that is more expensive or is considered a family heirloom, you may want to add it to your estate plan. Jewelry can be included as an umbrella provision in your will, or you can name specific pieces with clear descriptions. For example, you could word your will to say you leave “all” of your jewelry to someone. You could also leave earrings to one person, bracelets to another, etc. You could also designate specific items of jewelry, e.g., “my white gold double band ring studded with small diamonds to my son, and my costume jewelry to my daughter.” You can also gift the jewelry you don’t wear often before your passing to avoid relatives fighting over the asset in probate court. If you only have one heirloom jewelry item and can’t decide who should receive it, consider resetting stones from the piece into multiple different pieces.
Holiday Disputes & Estrangements
The holidays can be joyful and nostalgic, but they can also be stressful, especially in families in which the relationships are already tense. In extreme situations, you may no longer feel comfortable with the level of responsibility that you have assigned someone in your estate plan. For example, you could have a sibling or parent designated as your power of attorney. A power of attorney has many responsibilities if you ever lose the capacity to make them for yourself. A power of attorney could be in charge of your financial affairs, your medical decisions, and more. It all depends on the power of attorney document that you execute. A nasty dispute during the holidays could lead to a dispute that is at least temporary. If you no longer trust that person with your well-being, you may need to amend your estate plan to designate a new power of attorney and any other changes that need to be made.
Call Our Arizona Law Firm for Changes to Your Estate Plan
If the holidays have left you feeling like you need to make some changes to your estate plan, you don’t need to worry about expensive consultations or unreasonable hourly rates. Arizona Will Attorney offers free estate planning consultations in the office and by phone. We can help you determine whether you can change your estate plan through codicils or if it would be better to create an entirely new estate plan. We can also help you build your estate plan from the ground up if you don’t already have one in place. We can also help you decide if your decisions are being made in the heat of the moment or if there are better options for the long term. To schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Arizona estate planning lawyers, call 480-448-9800.
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