Leap years occur almost every 4 years, so our calendars remain in sync with astronomical time. It takes the Earth 365.242 days to rotate around the sun and without leap years we would lose an average of 6 hours each year. So, the extra day exists to keep our seasons aligned, but it can also be beneficial for you in other ways as well.
The extra day can be time you spend catching up with loved ones you haven’t seen in a while. It can be used to relax and rejuvenate before heading into March. You can take time to work on tasks you’ve put off so far this year. Or you can use the day to get organized and start planning for your future.
Part of the extra day could be spent thinking about your personal health. Having a plan in place *before* an actual medical emergency is critical. This helps ensure your wishes are followed, and you receive the kinds of treatment you want. Some things to consider include:
- Who you would name as a healthcare agent – this is a role designated in a healthcare power of attorney, given to a person you trust to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself;
- Who you would grant HIPAA authorizations to – these authorizations enable your loved ones to obtain information from medical professionals, which is necessary if they have to make a medical decision for you; and,
- What types of treatment you would like in different scenarios – whether you would like to receive life support, artificial feeding, or be resuscitated are all personal decisions and decisions that may change depending on what situation you are in. These are included in advanced directives or living wills and provide information to your loved ones in the event they have to make choices for you.
Another thing you could on the extra day is set aside time to start making financial plans. Some things you could do in this time include:
- Consider who you would name as a financial agent – this role is granted in a financial power of attorney to someone you trust to make financial or legal decisions for you if you were no longer able to make them for yourself;
- Gather information – having an idea of the different bank, investment and retirement accounts you (or your spouse) have, whose name the house and any vehicles are titled in, and what kinds of insurance you have can make it easier to plan and easier on your love ones if they ever have to take control; and,
- Consider who you would like to inherit, when you would like them to inherit and how – for some this may be an easy decision, you’d want everything to go to your spouse or equally to your children. For others, more thought may have to go into it. Would you want your children to receive equal shares? Would any of your potential beneficiaries need financial advice before receiving a lump sum of money? If they are younger beneficiaries, would you even want them to receive a lump sum or would you rather any inheritance be held in trust until they are at a point where they are fiscally responsible to handle it.
Our firm has always stressed the value of proactively planning. Having a personalized plan in place can help prevent unnecessary stress, expenses, and disputes. It can also make sure your wishes are carried out and make it easier on your family should the need for them to step in arise.
We hope everyone enjoys one extra day to learn something new, spend time with friends and family, or seek new opportunities. For those who want to learn more about estate planning, please contact us, (248) 409-0256, to schedule the next step. We offer a complimentary initial consultation where we’ll discuss our process, the strategies and tools we use in our practice, and how it all can benefit you.