Estate plans are very specific and personal. As your life changes, so must your estate plan. Many people make the mistake of creating a plan once and forgetting about it. As a result, your plan may fail to sufficiently protect you and your heirs. Here are 4 things your estate plan may be missing.
1 – Digital Assets
When we think of assets, we often think about physical belongings and liquid funds. Commonly missed are digital assets, which can vary greatly in type and value. It can include social media accounts that may have significant followers, product licenses, visual or audio files, and much more. These may be secured by contracts or protected by passwords that are difficult to recover. In some cases, it may not be transferrable without specific prior consent or approval by the licensing entity. Be sure to mention digital assets to your estate planning attorney and create a plan for proper transfer to your heirs.
2 – Inherited Assets
Another of the things your estate plan may be missing are inherited assets. You may have taken intentional and detailed steps to protect your existing assets, but those provisions might not cover assets that you inherit. Naturally, you can’t foresee that someone will pass and leave you an inheritance, so it might not be something you thought of including in your own estate plan. This, again, is why it’s so important to update your plan to reflect major life changes.
3 – New Assets
Have you purchased any real estate, stocks, or other new assets over the last year? If so, does your estate plan accurately reflect these assets? For many people, the answer is no. We hate to be a broken record, but again, this is why you must review your estate plan yearly and update it. Changes to assets, debts and overall estate value change continually.
4 – Backups for Essential Roles
Your estate plan may include several important roles assigned to one or more people. Examples are a personal representative (executor), power of attorney for financial affairs, health care proxy, and guardian for children. It’s essential to list backups for these roles in case you survive the individuals listed or they decline the responsibility. Failing to list a backup can result in the same issue as not assigning the role, to begin with. In fact, you might even provide a third or fourth backup.
Protecting Things Your Estate Plan May Be Missing
Other than updating your estate plan regularly, what else can you do to protect the things your estate plan may be missing? First and foremost, make sure you have a pour-over will. This covers any assets that may not be specifically listed in your estate plan. It’s somewhat of a catch-all. Secondly, when creating or reviewing your estate plan every year, discuss possible scenarios with your attorney. You may be able to include language to address possible scenarios before they occur. If you’d like assistance with your Massachusetts estate plan, contact our team to schedule a consultation.