Developing an estate plan can be as straightforward or as comprehensive as you choose to make it. While it will ultimately be your wishes and legacy that are carried out, the time you take to extensively plan today will be a testament to how much you cared for your loved ones.
Without a financial advisor, many individuals seek to do the bare minimum level of estate planning as opposed to all of the beneficial, but not mandatory, steps that can be taken. Additionally, it becomes easy to forget some items. Here we will review some frequently overlooked estate planning steps as well as alternatives to traditional choices.
Don't Neglect Digital Assets
We live in a digital world where nearly everything can be accomplished online. When considering estate planning it is easy to think about wealth and material goods with a set value and hard to consider everything else. Keep in mind that it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for your loved ones to access digital information and accounts after you pass on if access or documented permission was not given to them beforehand. Stopping online automatic bill payments from siphoning money from your accounts every month is a chore even with permission. The loss of an entire history of personal and family videos or photos stored in an inaccessible account could be rather soul-crushing if you intended your loved ones to have them. Access will also allow loved ones to take down your social media accounts after you pass, or leave an update about your passing for your friends and followers if you prefer. Take the appropriate steps to document and secure all digital assets, accounts, information and passwords so that all is not lost after death.
It is not always money that can create conflict after you or a loved one passes. Often it is the result of items that hold some emotional or sentimental value to your family. Without your exact wishes outlined in your will for these often low-value items, you may leave a war in your wake.
Plan ahead to address family heirlooms and perhaps even ask family members if there is anything sentimental of yours they would like to have after you pass. Be very aware of any current conflict between family members, as this is likely to become worse after a tragedy. While you may not be able to solve it, it is good to keep it in mind when planning for your estate if there are ways to avoid fueling the fire.
Some estate planning options are simply less used even by those who do create an estate plan. Just because a document is not legally binding, do not let that scare you away from writing down your wishes. Your wishes for your funeral and burial are one such topic. Communicate in writing what you prefer, from the type and location of burial to even the song you want playing at your funeral. Family and friends will most likely respect your wishes when they are documented. Consider writing an ethical will. This document will outline your wishes, dreams, values you have learned over your lifetime, and even stories if you wish to tell them. It tells the world and future family members who you are and what you believed, along with important life lessons should you choose to document them. There is no definitive outline for an ethical will; you can write exactly what you want to pass on as a memory for all. Still, this is often a much-appreciated document particularly in close or very large families.
Estate planning is different for everyone, but don't allow what is important to you to slip through the cracks. Carefully choosing an estate attorney and financial advisor on your legacy planning journey is an important step. Contact BD Financial Concepts today for financial and legacy planning assistance.
We are a professional financial services firm located in Sanford, Central Florida.