Developing an estate plan is oftentimes emotionally overwhelming. It is not difficult to imagine an oversight in the following areas. Dig out your estate plan and verify if you have made provision for the following situations. If not, make it a priority to speak with an estate planning attorney.
- Alternative Beneficiaries.
Your estate plan should include an alternate or contingent beneficiary in the instance that your named beneficiary does not survive you. When you pass away without an identified beneficiary, then your estate risks needing a probate.
Do you have a small family? No kids? No one you really want to leave things to? Then you may consider naming a charity as the ultimate back up beneficiary.
Providing an alternative or contingent name means you can make sure that your property will go where you want it.
- Digital Assets.
What will happen to your online accounts and assets (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Walgreens Photos, Shutterfly albums, Amazon, email, and anywhere else you conduct business online)?
Most people automatically assume that these digital assets will automatically transfer over to their loved ones upon death. That is not necessarily the case.
Take proactive steps you can take to make sure that your photos, blogs, ebooks, music, etc. will pass properly.
Make a list of all of your online accounts, including user name and password for each. Also add the passcodes for your personal digital devices (laptop, iPad, iPhone, desktop). It is difficult to find an account that is not on the radar.
For those of you concerned about listing this very private information, consider avoiding an electronic record by handwriting the information and keeping it in your estate plan book or in your safe. There are also some reputable sites which will store this information securely on the cloud for you.
Making your digital assets known is only part of the equation. You will also need to make sure you give authority over your digital assets to your designated personal representative using a power of attorney.
- Personal Possessions and Family Heirlooms.
Personal possessions or family heirlooms with sentimental value are not easily divisible among multiple beneficiaries, especially if you want to keep the item(s) in the family.
Complete a Personal Property Memorandum. This document allows you to identify which assets are to go whom. The Personal Property Memorandum is oftentimes referenced in a will or trust and is legally binding.
If you are unsure what you have will work to accomplish your wishes, ask your estate planning attorney.
Pets won’t be able to take care of themselves if you are gone; and no, you cannot leave property to an animal directly.
Give thought to who might accept the responsibility to take care of your animals. Then, list a contingent caretaker as a backup plan. If none, consider identifying that your animals are to go to a no-kill animal shelter or sanctuary.
For those of you wanting additional structure, talk to your estate planning attorney about pet trust options. A pet trust is established to set aside funds that are regularly paid to your pet’s caregiver to address needs of your pets and costs as they arise.
Are you missing any of these key elements in your existing estate plan? Even if you don’t have a established plan, Stone Law Offices, Ltd. is here to help. Make an appointment for your free consultation today: 702-998-0444. We are open Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm.
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