While we want to encourage people to have wills drawn up and do not want to overwhelm anyone with all that estate planning entails, we have to agree with the writer of “Where There’s a Will, There’s Not Always an Estate Plan” who discusses how a will is just the first step. Some people think their will is an estate plan but it isn’t, as the Forbes.com article explains:
“Wills have been the go-to estate planning documents for generations. They dictate guardianship guidelines and transfer aspects of your property and assets. Wills are an important component of estate planning, however they’re just one piece of it. In order to control the spending or investing of your assets after death, you need to use a trust or other instrument. “
For example, people who are concerned about the spending habits of their heirs, those who want to try to ensure that property stays in the family, and those looking to secure the continuity of a business, can use trusts with those issues in mind.
Beneficiary Designations: If you didn’t know, you need to update your beneficiaries because these documents could take precedence over your will so this means whoever you have listed as a beneficiary of your retirement accounts or insurance policy would get the money even if your will names someone else as your heir.
Digital Assets: If you haven’t recently updated your estate plan, there is a good chance that your digital assets are not included. Some states have passed laws that allow for you to include instructions about your digital assets in an estate plan. (Among other things, digital assets include websites and e-mail.) It is good that you are able to do this but you have to know that you can and act accordingly because “if proactive planning and language specific to digital asset communications aren’t added into estate planning documents, access could be denied and the assets would be lost forever.”
A Fee-Only financial planner can help as you work on an estate plan, understanding your need for financial security as well as your desire to know that your family has options for the future.