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Completing Your Estate Plan? Be Sure to Include These Four Provisions

Occasionally, there are certain provisions that people often forget to include in their will or estate plan that could end up having a big impact on their loved ones.  Whether you have completed your estate plan or not, do not forget to include these four provisions:

1. Naming Alternate Beneficiaries

In the case that your named beneficiary is unable to claim under the will or does not outlive you, you will want to include at least one alternative beneficiary.  If a will names someone who is unable to take possession of the property, your assets may pass as if you did not have a will at all.  That means state law estate planningwould determine who gets your property, regardless of your wishes.  By naming an alternative beneficiary, you can ensure that your assets will pass according to your wishes.

2. Family Heirlooms and Personal Possessions

A family heirloom does not have to be worth a lot of money to hold a lot of sentimental value.  For this reason, you may want to designate which family members are to receive which items.  If you so choose, you can write a list directly into your will.  However, this makes it difficult to make changes.  A personal property memorandum is a separate document that can be used to outline which family members and friends get what.

3. Pets

With the prevalence in the creation of pet trusts, it is no secret that pets become important members of the family.  In our lifetime, we do all that we can to care for them, however, in our absence, they cannot take care of themselves.  While you cannot leave property directly to your pet, you can name a caretaker in your will and leave money to that person to care for the pet.   Additionally, if you choose to create a pet trust, the trustee would make payments on a regular basis to your pet’s caregiver and as needs arise, additional funds would be given.

4. Digital Assets

We are in the age of the internet.  More and more business is conducted online.  What happens to these online assets and profiles after you die?  To make it easier for your family to deal with your digital property, you should make a list of all your online accounts with usernames and passwords.  You should also include access information for your digital devices such as your smartphone and computer.  Then you will need to make sure your agent under your durable power of attorney and the personal representative named in your will have authority to deal with your online accounts.  For a digital will template, click here.

To ensure your estate plan includes all of your needs, contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. I like how you mentioned including pets in estate planning. My grandma loves her dog Bella and wants her to be taken care of. Thanks for the information on these four provisions in an estate plan.

  2. I actually never considered or knew there were pet trusts to set up. I have two dogs that I love dearly and want to be happy should something happen to me. This is something I will definitely look into.

  3. Thanks for explaining how you need to consider alternate beneficiaries before choosing them. It would be good to consider this because it would help ensure that no problems occur when you die. My husband and I are looking for an estate planner to help us write our wills, so we’ll have to consider our beneficiaries.

  4. Thanks for the article, I liked your point about pets. Animals often have an even higher value than items, so they can cause fighting too. In some cases the animal may be a burden that your heirs try to pass off onto one another. It’d just be easier to leave them to someone, for their happiness and your heirs’.

  5. I didn’t know you could name a caretaker in your will to take care of your pets. My husband and I were wanting to start getting our estate plan in check before our fourth child is born. I’ll have to take into consideration who will take care of our new puppy when we are meeting with the lawyer. I’ll have to do some research and find a lawyer in my area that will be willing to help us with our estate plan.

  6. It sure is nice to know that one can include digital assets such as online profiles in their estate planning. While my father does not use social media, he does make use of productivity tools on the computer that requires passwords and the like before it can be accessed. I’ll mention this to him so that he can get with an agent and learn how he can include this as part of his estate planning.

  7. Thank you for the advice about including alternate beneficiaries in your will. It would make sense to find an estate planner who is knowledgeable and all the provisions that you need. My husband and I are looking for an estate planner, so we’ll have to consider about alternate beneficiaries as well.

  8. My wife and I are thinking about completing our estate plan this summer, so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about writing a list of heirlooms directly into your will. We’ll be sure to do this so our kids inherit what we have.

  9. You make a good point when you suggest putting your online assets into your will. Including a proviso for what to do with your digital assets would help ensure that your loved ones are financially sound. When I hire a lawyer to help plan my will, I’ll have to ask if they have any experience managing digital assets first.

  10. My parents recently told our family that they want to plan their estate, and that they want our help in doing so. I didn’t really know much about estate planning, but your article had some great information I can share with my family. You mention to keep pets in minds, and that in a will you can designate a caretaker for any pet left behind and leave money to that person for care of the pet as well. Thanks for the help; my dad has a cockier spaniel that I’m sure he’ll want to consider in his will.

  11. I didn’t realize that I could include a pet trust in my will so that I can be sure my pet is taken care of in the case of my death. We were just gifted with a cockatoo and I’ve heard they often live past their owners. Thanks to your advice, we’ll start looking into probate law and hire an estate planning attorney.

  12. My husband and I want to find a lawyer to help us estate plan, so these tips are great. When we go in, I will remember to create a pet trust for my cat, Goldie. I would hate if she felt left out when we passed along.

  13. I really appreciate your tip to consider whether or not you want to leave money for someone to take care of your pet. My wife and I have been trying to get our affairs in order for when we pass away, and all of our kids are old enough to not needing someone to take care of them. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should find a probate attorney who can help us figure out the care of our pets.

  14. I thought it was great how you mentioned that you should include family heirlooms and personal possession when planning your estate. My father is getting older and wants to write a will. It may be beneficial for him to hire a probate attorney to help him through the process.

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