An article from Philly.com offers some thoughts on commonly overlooked subjects for wills in “5 Things People Forget to Include in Their Will.” Folks keep neglecting important items in their estate planning documents. Here are a few items that need to be in there:
- Alternate Beneficiaries. A big item in your estate planning should be to include at least one alternative beneficiary, in case the named beneficiary dies before you or isn’t able to claim under the will. Provide an alternative beneficiary to be sure that the property goes where you want it to go.
- Personal Property and Family Heirlooms. Some heirlooms can have a great deal of sentimental value, such as holiday ornaments and handmade linens. You should clearly state which family members get which item. You can add a list in your will. However, this can make it hard to add or delete items. A personal property memorandum is a separate document that lists which friends and family members get what personal property. Some states have laws that say if it’s referenced in the will, it’s legally binding. Even if the personal property memorandum isn’t legally binding, it’s helpful for your heirs to avoid confusion and fighting.
- Digital Assets. What becomes of our digital assets and accounts when we pass away? Take these steps to help your family deal with your digital property:
- Put together a list of all your online accounts, like e-mail, financial accounts, Facebook, and anywhere online where you conduct business;
- List your username and password for each account;
- Include access information for your digital devices (such as smart phones and computers); and
- Be sure the agent under your durable power of attorney and the personal representative named in your will, have authority to handle your online accounts.
- Pets. Pets can’t take care of themselves after you are gone. And although you can’t leave property directly to a pet, you can designate a caretaker in your will and leave him or her assets to care for the pet. You should also name an alternative beneficiary. Some states allow pet trusts, where the trustee makes payments on a regular basis to your pet’s caregiver and pays for your pet’s care.
Reference: Philly.com (September 2, 2015) “5 Things People Forget to Include in Their Will”
Even if you already have a will or estate plan in place, you should review and update it every few years. For help managing your will and estate planning needs, contact our office for a free consultation 801.438.7120.