Overlooking small details can cause big problems, especially when it comes to making sure that your legal affairs are in order. Kalil & LaCount has put together a list of commonly overlooked items to help make sure that you have “taken care of the details.”
- Updating beneficiaries – People know to update their will or trust when they decide to change who will inherit their assets, but often overlook changing the beneficiaries on assets that pass outside of the will or trust. Assets, such as life insurance and pension accounts (i.e., 401K), require you to choose a beneficiary specific to that insurance plan. A change to your will or trust will not override the beneficiary designation. To ensure that your assets go to the intended person, beneficiary designations should be revisited periodically. Equally important is designating a contingent beneficiary, who will receive the asset if the first person you designate passes before you.
- Joint ownership of real estate – Transferring real estate upon death can be accomplished without probate by simply transferring your ownership into joint ownership with the person(s) that you intend to inherit the property. This simple transfer is often overlooked. Including a second owner for your real estate now could help plan for the unexpected. Take a look at your real estate deeds.
- Umbrella insurance – Assuring that your car, home, and other assets are insured is a great start to planning for unexpected events; but, for the best protection, you should also consider umbrella insurance policies. Umbrella policies provide additional coverage at a low cost. Umbrella policies provide additional liability coverage above and beyond the primary insurance policy (i.e. automobile insurance policy). Generally this type of insurance is purchased in million dollar increments.
- Durable Power of Attorney & Health Care Documents – It has become common for primary care doctors and health care facilities to encourage individuals to create “living wills” and “health care powers of attorney”. These documents allow a trusted relative or friend to make healthcare decisions if you are incapacitated. It is equally as important to execute a “durable power of attorney” to appoint someone who can handle your financial and legal matters. As with beneficiary designations, it is important to list a second person to act if the first person you designate is unavailable. If you have such documents you should review who has been designated.
- Annual Report Filing – A lot of paperwork goes into setting up a new business and registering it with the Secretary of State. Many business owners forget that, after the initial set up, a report needs to be filed with the Secretary of State each year in order to maintain the entity in good standing. If the report is not filed on time, you may face fines and/or have your business entity administratively dissolved. For many entities, the report is due by April 1 each year.
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread – For many documents, a small spelling mistake can create a big problem. For instance, in deeds, UCC filings, and other documents used to provide evidence of a lien, if your name or the debtor’s name is not spelled correctly, you may not be providing proper notice to other potential lien holders and this may affect your ability to enforce your lien. A search for liens will not usually display any incorrectly spelled names. Make sure to reread all of your important documents and check that they have been properly filed.
- Safety Deposit Box- Do you have a safety deposit box? Who has authority to access the box? Access to the box is controlled by documents signed by the boxholder with the bank. Failure to have alternate signatories could result in the necessity for a court order to access the safety deposit box- also known as drilling the box.
The attorneys at Kalil & LaCount are here to ensure that your details are taken care of. We can review your estate plan, complete your annual report filings, or help you address any other details that you think you may have missed. Please contact us with any questions.