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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

5 Things to Do Before the End of the Year

Is making an estate plan on your list in the New Year?  You might think that it can wait until you sit down with an experienced attorney to discuss your family details.  While it’s true that you’ll need an attorney to help you talk through some of the finer points of your plan, there are a few concrete steps you can take in advance to make estate planning easier in 2019.

At holiday time, loved ones are getting together perhaps from far away, and it’s the perfect time to take these 5 steps to get closer to a plan for your family:

Gather.  Gather your recent tax returns, your life insurance policies, your investment statements.  At the end of the year, you’re likely evaluating your expenses and receiving end-of-year statements from some of your accounts.  Gathering this documentation can be difficult if attempted all at once, so think about collecting them slowly, as they arrive, and having them all in one place will make estate planning so simple.

Chat.  Talk to the loved ones you are considering as part of your plan, and ask them if they’re comfortable with the roles you have imagined.  Talk with the people you’d like to choose as guardians for minor children, which most people would like to know about in advance.  Talking is an important part of planning.

Request.  Request a pre-meeting packet from Swan Law, which includes a workbook that is helpful in planning for your appointment.  It will help you begin to think about the types of things our plans include.  They go way beyond financial documents, accounting for your whole legacy.  This workbook will help you begin to think about estate planning as more than just a plan for your money.  You can request a packet by emailing

Collect.  Collecting recent contact information for the people close to you is easy this time of year, since we’re already sending holiday cards and seeing people from far away.  Up-to-date phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses are a crucial part of your estate plan, but it can feel tedious when done in isolation.  Collecting this information as part of your holiday planning will make estate planning time much easier!

Make memories & enjoy.  Reflect on your traditions.  Take photos.  Think about what you cherish and what you want to preserve.  Think about the values you want to foster.  Look around at your beautiful family and really take them in–they are the reason you are planning in the first place!  Keeping them top-of-mind will make your plan more complete.  It will have more meaning, and it will give purpose to your planning in the new year.

From all of us at Swan Law, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday with your loved ones, and a prosperous New Year!

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