Most of us prefer not to contemplate our own mortality, but it’s crucial to prepare for the inevitable to protect our loved ones from unnecessary distress during an already challenging time. At Sudden Wealth Protection Law, we regularly observe that some estate planning essentials are frequently overlooked, causing significant problems for survivors. Today, we will share five key areas you need to consider when planning your estate:
1. Creating a Digital Estate Plan
In our increasingly digital world, an essential part of estate planning that many overlook is the digital estate. This includes social media accounts, email accounts, digital photos, online banking information, and even cryptocurrency wallets. Failing to provide information for accessing these digital assets can leave your loved ones in a state of confusion and potential legal hassle. Make sure you include a plan for these assets, including secure storage of necessary passwords, to ensure smooth transition and access after your passing.
An easy way to organize your passwords is to use an online password keeper like LastPass. You can set it up so a loved one can email the company and request access. The company will then email you, and if you do not respond after a period of time, the access will be granted.
2. Updating Your Beneficiaries
Many of us take out life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial products during different stages of our lives. As life circumstances change – marriages, divorces, births, deaths – it’s essential to keep the named beneficiaries on these policies updated. An outdated beneficiary designation can lead to unnecessary legal disputes and complications, causing stress to your loved ones after your departure.
Call your agent or investment advisor to find out who the beneficiaries are. It’s quick and easy to update this information.
3. Establishing Medical Directives
A living will is a document outlining your wishes concerning medical treatments if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. Failing to create such a directive can put your loved ones in the difficult position of having to make these critical decisions on your behalf. Ensure that your preferences for end-of-life care are clearly outlined in your estate plan.
Law firms create standard living will documents. However, you can customize this. For example, we can include your preferences regarding food and music. A living will is important. However, it actually even more important to have the right person in place to make medical decisions. The staff at a hospital or hospice is going to listen to a person over reading a document.
4. Maintaining a Comprehensive Inventory of Assets
Your estate encompasses more than just your house or car. It includes all your personal and financial assets, ranging from bank accounts to jewelry, artwork, and debts. A comprehensive inventory of all your assets is critical to prevent oversights and potential disputes among your heirs.
Having an inventory of your main assets is time-consuming. However, this is super helpful to your loved ones.
5. Discussing Your Estate Plans with Loved Ones
Death is a sensitive subject, but not discussing your estate plans can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts among your loved ones. Ensure that they’re aware of your plans, know who your estate executor is, and understand where your important documents are stored. While it might be uncomfortable, these conversations can make a significant difference in easing the process after your passing.
Paul Deloughery (founding attorney) is always preaching about this. Having open and honest communication about your wishes and hopes for the future will help avoid future conflict. Many conflicts are caused by loved ones having different opinions about what you would have wanted. That can be avoided with periodic family meetings. Also, there is no reason not to share documents. If there are going to be problems or conflicts, you may as well have them now rather than later when you can’t explain why you made the choices you did.
Call Us For Your Estate Planning Essentials.
The process of estate planning can be complex and emotionally charged, but it’s crucial to ensuring that your loved ones are protected and your wishes respected. If you need guidance through the maze of estate planning, please call us at 602-443-4888. Our experienced team is here to support you every step of the way.