Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Natural Catastrophes and your Estate Plan

From the tornados that ripped through Alabama and Missouri just last month and the two catastrophic fires currently raging in south-eastern Arizona, Mother Nature has not been too kind lately.  And as hurricane season has officially begun, coastal cities hope they're not added to the casualty list.  Natural disasters like this serve as an apt metaphor and constant reminder of the importance of proper estate planning.

It is very hard to predict the exact time and severity of a natural disaster, so it is always important to be prepared.  Similarly, you just won't know when life's "tornado" will affect you and your loved ones, so taking the steps to create and execute an estate plan is also an important part in preparing for your future.

Many people have been lucky to survive these recent catastrophes, but still countless others have been injured and left disabled.  Disability planning is another crucial component in an effective estate plan.  Special needs trusts, health care directives, and powers of attorney are just a few of planning tools that most people overlook, to their peril, even if they do have an estate plan.

Also, because natural disasters--and any tragedies in life--are so unpredictable, it is imperative that you keep your plan up to date.  We recommend that you enroll in a formal maintenance program with your estate planning professional.  As an alternative, you should review your plan with an estate planning attorney once every two years, and after a significant life change has occurred such as divorce or a new child.

Be prepared for the unexpected by ensuring that you have a thorough, effective estate plan in place before you get caught out in the rain.

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