Make Estate Planning Part of Your 2019 New Year’s Resolution

January 15, 2019

When most people think about New Year’s resolutions, updating their estate planning documents doesn’t come to mind. For 2019, make it part of yours. If you’ve had your estate planning documents for more than 5 years, it’s definitely time to revisit. Here are some reasons why:

Digital Assets

Most people use their digital assets every day without thinking about what happens to their accounts when they pass. Who can access your online banking, social media platforms, text documents, emails, business/personal websites, stored photos in the cloud and more? The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets (RUFADAA) is a law developed to provide fiduciaries the authority to manage the digital assets of the deceased or incapacitated. Although this new law is enacted by most states, you should still have explicit language in your will or power of attorney directing how much access you want to grant your agent. Conversely, if you want complete privacy, you will want provisions that prohibit your representative from accessing your data. Your estate planning attorney can share the best approach in your state to manage your digital assets as you desire.

Different People in your life

The people in your life change as your life evolves. Since you last revised your documents, you may have added new members to your family with more children, marriages or grandchildren. Perhaps you or a family member is newly remarried or divorced. You definitely want to revise your estate document to assure your named beneficiaries are up-to-date so your assets pass as you intend.

Review and Rethink Your Executor, Guardian, Trustee, and Beneficiaries

Also review the people you have appointed as guardian, executors, and trustees in your estate plans to be sure they are still your preferred choices. Relationships and peoples’ personal circumstances change. For example, many people name their parents as guardians to their minor children. As the years go by, aging parents with health challenges may no longer be up to the task of handling the demands of raising children. Perhaps an appointee moved overseas, or your relationship with a potential executor has changed. Some updated consideration and reflection will go a long way to ensure your estate is handled smoothly by trusted people in your life.

Change in Your Assets

A significant change in your assets always warrants an update to your estate plan. Perhaps you sold your business, or you had a meaningful inheritance. You should work with your advisor and attorney to consider how these new assets are going to impact your estate. There are a variety of estate planning strategies you will want to begin to consider that can protect your privacy and safeguard your new wealth effectively and efficiently.

Reviewing your estate documents regularly or after a major life event ensures that your legacy passes on in accordance with your wishes.

  • By Elaine Lee, CFP®