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A New Year means new goals. Besides drinking less and working out more, most Americans do not consider updating their estate planning documents after the first of January rolls around. While this may seem more dreadful than the elliptical, it doesn't have to be. If you know the important items and provisions of the documents, you can skim through without revising them in their entirety. Here are some key points to keep in mind while reviewing:

1. What kind of life events have occurred since the last time you updated your estate documents?

Marriages? Divorces? Deaths of beneficiaries? Were debts paid off? Were new debts incurred? Any financial, familial and personal changes need to be accounted for, as these will certainly affect your estate planning documents.

2. Revisit your financial power of attorney.

Do you still trust this person to deal with your bank accounts, sign your name to documents, etc.? Consider whether the appointment you have made is still appropriate now. If not, work on drafting a letter of revocation immediately to retrieve any documents your financial power of attorney may have in their possession.

3. Review your health care power of attorney.

Similarly, do you still trust the individual appointed to make decisions affecting your end-of-life circumstances? Keep in mind that science progresses at a frighteningly rapid rate daily. There may be medical care and treatment available today that was not 

when you drafted your estate documents. Do some research and you may be surprised at what kind of changes in your estate planning documents it inspires.

4. Asses any potential source of conflict amongst those who stand to take from your estate.

Disputes traditionally begin after the reading of the will, when heirs realize that their inheritance is not what they expected. Although it is morbid to try and "predict" what life will be like after your death, go ahead and see if you envision any battles post-reading. Challengers of a will have only one year from the date the will was probated to contest it in Pennsylvania. However, 360 days is a long time for disgruntled heirs to cause some headaches for the ones you care about.

If you have questions about estate planning, contact the estate planning attorneys at McMorrow Law, LLC at 724-940-0100 for a free consultation.

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