Which areas are often ignored in estate planning?
While most of us understand the importance of estate planning, there are a number of areas that can easily be overlooked. This is one of the reasons it is essential to have a skilled and knowledgeable estate planning attorney at your side when you are creating wills, trusts, and other pertinent documents. An expert in the field will make sure that you not only cover all the basic aspects of estate planning but that you also take various other, however unlikely, scenarios into consideration. This will save your loved ones from potential pitfalls down the line.
Estate planning subject matters that often go unaddressed are:
Digital assets include all electronic data stored online, often on a "cloud" server, such as emails, blogs, and financial accounts. Now that so many financial matters take place over the internet, significant changes have had to be made as the law catches up with technology.
Because so many individuals now have multiple digital assets, it is advantageous to all of us to authorize our trustees, agents, or executors to be able to access and manage these after we die. It is also important that we keep such arrangements, like all of our estate planning arrangements, up-to-date by reviewing them regularly.
Even though we have all heard the stories of large estates being left for the care of pets, in everyday reality many valued companion animals are inadvertently left out of estate planning decisions altogether. Most pet owners want their beloved animals kept comfortable if the animals outlive their owners, so it is necessary to plan for their placement and care should the owners predecease them. There are laws in place that can be used to authorize use of owner resources for placement services and veterinary care in case of the owner's disability or death, but the arrangements nevertheless have to be made.
Dependent Adult Children
It is not only special needs adult children who should be looked out for in financial planning arrangements. These days there are many adult children who, whether for economic or psychological reasons, continue to depend on their parents for support, whether they live in the parental home or elsewhere. Certainly these adult children should receive specific attention when estate plans are drawn up. Parents may want to allow such children, for example, to continue living in the parental home rent-free or may want to leave them continuing financial support through a trust.
It is sometimes too easy to forget that life and death often do not follow the chronological path that we anticipate; it is therefore important to make provisions for unexpected occurrences. Even if we name young beneficiaries, there is always the possibility (the one no one likes to consider) that a child will predecease a surviving spouse. To cover all bases, it makes sense to take into account as many alternatives as possible. It should be remembered that neglecting to take other scenarios into consideration can result in the complications of unnecessary probate or in an unintended beneficiary being the recipient of your assets.
Working with an established, reputable estate planning attorney provides you with the security you need; reviewing your plans with that same trustworthy attorney at regular intervals -- as least every 5 years -- ensures that your comprehensive plan continues to cover your current situation.