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Las Vegas, NV Estate Planning & Probate Blog

Friday, January 26, 2018

Getting Organized in 2018: A Guide to Set Yourself Up for Success!

Getting Organized in 2018 – Things you can do now to make 2018 your best year yet!

Happy New Year!  In this edition of our blog, we wanted to recognize the new year of 2018, and give you some tips on how to get organized.  First and foremost, resolutions are great.  Goals are always inhibitors of the action, and creating goals is an organizational tool that can be applied to all facets of life.  However, along with your resolutions (especially for the new year, new you), focus on some goals that aren’t traditionally associated with the excitement that the new year brings.  Focus on long-term planning benefits, how the months to come will affect you and your loved ones and even for the end of the year.  Enjoy all of the novelties that new years brings, but don’t forget about the longevity of your goals and how they will look in the later months.

1.       Trust in your Trust. 

So maybe you have an existing trust that needs a slight amendment (i.e. minor change in information that does not substantially affect the document itself) OR maybe you need a complete restatement (i.e. think of a brand-new trust document with substantial changes) OR maybe you are ready to take the leap into the estate planning world and establish a trust for the very first time.  Wherever you land on that scale, take some time to review your documents.  Note any changes that you would like to be made, communicate these wishes with your estate planner and update your trust!  Getting this out of the way now can give you peace of mind for the remainder of the year, but also secure your assets that you have obtained and guarantee that your trust is properly funded to avoid any probate issues.  Even if you have an existing trust that doesn’t have any changes, it is still beneficial to check in with your estate planning attorney to get any updates on the law or any updated recommendations for your trust. 

2.       Your Health Care Decisions

One of the most important things on a human level is to get the kind of care you want in your time of need.  Healthcare Power of Attorneys designate who makes a healthcare decision for you in the event that you cannot make one for yourself, and what kind of measures would you want taken in emergent circumstances.  This document insures that your wishes are regarded with the utmost priority and gives an individual of your choosing the power to impose your wishes if necessary.  This is not only a measure taken that makes your life easier and rest assured, but also eliminates possible conflict amongst loved ones that may have different opinions on your care if the situation arises.  This form is simple, is included in your trust documents when you establish your trust but can also be provided to you on its own if you wish.  This document is simple to fill out and is one that is imperative for everyone.

3.       Money Issues--- who decides??

Along with a Healthcare Power of Attorney, one should also get a Durable Power of Attorney.  This document functions the same as the Healthcare Power of Attorney but deals only with financial matters in the even that you are not around or not able to make fiscal decisions.  The major difference here is that you may not choose the same person to be your Durable Power of Attorney as you did to make your healthcare decisions.  You want to appoint someone who is financially responsible and understands your economic situation and your wishes in regards to where your money goes.  Like the Healthcare Power of Attorney, this document is fairly simple to complete and is offered with your trust document or on its own.

4.       Social Media Woes.

This sounds crazy, but organize your social media!!  Today, social media is a major representation for a lot of people and making sure your respective accounts contain accurate information and also having the proper security preferences enabled is key.  If you have multiple accounts, it can get overwhelming to manage, or information can accidentally slip through the cracks.  In a world where so much is digitally available to us and is an ever-changing and evolving market, staying on top of your social media and any accounts that have information on you is imperative.  Some people like to use password libraries (because password requirements are getting insane!) or online expense trackers/budget apps.  Just make sure that your info is secure and that you take an active role in managing these online accounts. Some recommendations can be seen here.

5.       Make it Rain. . . into your savings.

It’s never a bad time to revisit your financial situation: where you are, where you want to be, how you are going to get there.  If you started the new year with a stark savings account, use your budget and reconfigure if you need to, so you can start on your way in achieving your financial goals.  Having a strong savings account will not only provide you with a safety net, but will empower you to make some big changes to your assets and/or businesses and will prepare you for retirement.  Maybe you reward yourself at the end of the year with a trip or an item you have had your eye on if you can save a certain amount.  If you aren’t a naturally inclined saver, make it a game and challenge yourself!

6.       The Actual Documents.

Even though we live in a prevalent digital era, the ever-present paper document seems to sustain its importance in our lives.  Therefore, find a way to get these organized and aligned with your digital documents.  There are many options for scanning and storing via app and device.  Although establishing a filing system is better than none, eventually you will become over-run with paper.  This is neither safe nor efficient. Storing your actual documents digitally will allow you to access them easily and quickly.  Research some data storing and scanning programs to assist you.  See recommendations here.

7.       We <3 Pets.

Our pets need us just as much as we need them.  While you are on this organization kick, look into your pet’s affairs and make sure that they are all squared away in any event that may come.  Revisit their paperwork and update their vet visits, grooming needs, play dates, etc.  All of this takes time and money from you and makes your pet super happy and healthy.  Intertwining your pet’s affairs with yours will not only make it easier for you to be up to date on their essentials, but can provide you with an idea of how much it costs to care for your furry friend.  Also, plan for emergencies.  It is never a fun time for you or your pet when something bad happens, but all to often, pet owners do not plan for emergent situations and when stuck with a vet bill, you don’t want to be in a financial bind.  Either store some money away for your pet (emergencies, grooming, toys, etc.) or look into obtaining pet insurance for their medical care.  Read more here.

Now you have a roadmap to start on your journey to an organized 2018.  This type of organization should be revisited throughout the year or for some items, once per year.  Take pride in your resolutions, and make them easier to focus on by organizing the day-to-day functions of your life.  Good luck and Happy New Year!!!

-by Laura Bown (Law Clerk/JD Candidate, 2018, Boyd School of Law, UNLV) with Tiffany Ballenger Floyd, Esq. (Nevada & California Estate Planning Attorney), © 2018, Phillips Ballenger, PLLC


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