Getting Organized In 2019
With the new year comes a new you, or so we aspire, with countless and varied resolutions and commitments to do better and be better than last year. However, as a firm experienced in estate planning, we encourage you to add a few important tasks to your resolutions that focus, not on casting off the past version of yourself, but working to preserve your past and current self’s wishes for a time when your family will need to know your intent for your belongings, property, vehicles, and bank accounts, among other possessions left behind.
First, one should examine all accounts, retirement plans and insurance policies, including life insurance especially, and ensure that all beneficiary designations are up to date. When you have insurance policies and retirement accounts, they usually come with beneficiary the accounts would automatically dispense to in the event of your passing. Due to the ever turning course of life, family relationships, and unforeseen circumstances, you may need to update the person you have listed as your beneficiary on these policies and accounts. Similarly, bank accounts have transfer on death provisions as well where you can name a person you trust to be given authority over your bank account upon your passing. In this way as well, you can take the steps to prevent any such assets having to be included in the probate process, which can be lengthy and expensive.
Next, one should keep careful track of all digital assets and make them easily accessible to someone you trust so they may gain access and manage said assets if the need should arise. With the integration of social media, smartphone applications, email accounts, etc. into our daily lives, it can be overwhelming for a loved one to attempt to take care of everything if they aren’t privy to your passwords, different social media accounts, etc. and your intentions for them. For example, even on Facebook, there are countless profiles of loved ones who may have passed away some time ago yet their inactive account gets hacked and taken advantage of, leaving a lengthy process with Facebook Administration to rectify the situation.
Also, take an accounting of sorts of your family and determine if there have been any changes that will need to be reflected in existing estate planning documents or beneficiary designations. Examples of this may be relatives who have passed away or minor children who are no longer minors. With adult children, the estate planning process is different as opposed to minor children. Ensure that any estate planning documents are updated with these important change so as to prevent potentially voiding portions of a will.
Last, make careful note of the placement of any estate planning or other important documents and ensure that those you trust know where those documents are. Further, you might invest in certified copies of said documents in case of destruction or misplacement of any originals. If you keep your will in a safety deposit box, tell the one you have nominated as personal representative and make sure they will have access when necessary.
If you follow this list and are proactive with any updates and keeping your loved ones in the know with respect to your wishes and your assets, you are ahead of the estate planning game. If this article has convinced you to take steps towards getting an estate plan in place, let our team at South County Law Firm assist you. We are very experienced in estate planning and probate and can ensure you have an estate plan tailored for you and your family. Give our office a call today to schedule a consultation.