The world has changed substantially over the last few decades including in regards to estate planning. Even if you have a detailed estate plan, reviewing and updating the terms of the estate plan as appropriate is still critical. Due to advances with healthcare, more people are living longer and understandably need a wider range of options with their estate planning documents.
This article reviews some of the areas in the estate planning documents that most commonly need to be updated.
# 1 – Digital Assets
You should always make sure to update your estate planning documents to properly reflect your relationship with digital assets. Not only do a large number of people in the United States have Facebook or other social media or digital accounts, as time passes these accounts a larger and more profound role in our lives. While some digital accounts have a feature that lets a person appoint a “legacy” contact to access data stored on a phone or computer after a person passes away, this fact does not encompass digital assets. Appointing a person in your estate planning documents saves you the time and expense associated with updating each new digital asset. Sometimes, it’s also possible to add an addendum to this information.
# 2 – Who Is Named in Estate Planning Documents
Often, when estate planning documents are created, married couples name one another to function in the role of trustee or executor while children or loved ones are appointed as secondary agents. Single people tend to name children or friends as executors to address details following their death. Adding an additional executor or trustee is almost always a good idea. Often, though, more planning should be done with a person’s estate. When first setting up an estate plan, people are often not considering that their loved one might turn down the appointment and could even get sick or pass away before they’re required to act in such a role. Consider appointments are evolving designations. What might seem like a good idea is not necessarily a good idea tomorrow. As a result, you should make sure to routinely review these appointments to make sure that they continue to reflect the best strategy possible.
# 3 – Guardianship
During a guardianship hearing, a judge appoints a guardian to address financial and medical issues associated with an incapacitated person’s life. A guardian is obligated to act in the best interests of the person who requires care. With current issues involving dementia and the aging process, more attorneys are requiring that guardians be named to avoid cases proceeding to court. While family members or loved ones are often appointed for guardianship, various reasons exist why you might not want to name a family member to manage your affairs. The guardian’s location, as well as trustworthiness and time issues, can also end up influencing who you appoint as guardian.