A lot of considerations go into your Estate Plan to ensure that your estate is dealt with according to your wishes. But, sometimes, even the best-laid plans don’t always work out the way you want them to – that’s why it’s important to be prepared with a Plan B.
Even if you’ve created an Estate Plan, there are certain provisions that people often forget to include that can have a big impact on a family. These four documents are critical to avoiding any complications that may arise.
- Alternate Beneficiaries
One of the most important things your Estate Plan should include is at least one alternative beneficiary in case the named beneficiary does not outlive you or does not want to take what you have left them in the Will.
In cases where a Will names a beneficiary who isn’t able to take possession of the property, your assets may pass as though you didn’t have a Will at all. This means that despite all your careful planning, state law will still determine who gets your property, not you. By providing an alternate beneficiary, you can make sure that the property goes where you want it to go.
- Personal Property Memorandum
Passing on personal possessions and family heirlooms can become a cause of conflict among the loved ones you leave behind. Even though not all heirlooms are worth a lot of money, they may contain sentimental value. It is a good idea to be clear about which family members should get which items.
While you can write a list directly into your Will, this method makes it difficult if you want to add items or delete items later on. A personal property memorandum is a separate document that details which friends and family members get what personal property. In some states, if the document is referenced in the Will, it is legally binding. However, even if the document is not legally binding under Texas law, it is helpful to leave instructions for your heirs to avoid confusion and bickering.
- Documents Providing Access/Authority Over Digital Assets
In today’s increasingly digital world, more and more of us are conducting business online – but what happens to these online assets and accounts after you die?
Some steps you can take to help your family deal with your digital property include:
- Making a list of all of your online accounts, including email, financial accounts, social media accounts, and anywhere else you conduct business online. Don’t forget to include your username and password for each account. Also, include access information for your digital devices, including smartphones and computers.
- Making sure the agent under your durable power of attorney and the personal representative named in your Will have authority to deal with your online accounts.
- Pet Trust / Naming A Caretaker For Your Pet
Pets are beloved members of the family, but they can’t take care of themselves after you are gone. While you can’t leave property directly to a pet, you can name a caretaker in your Will and leave that person money to care for the pet. Don’t forget to name an alternative beneficiary as well.
If you want more security, some states, including Texas, allow you to set up a Pet Trust. With a Pet Trust, the trustee makes payments on a regular basis to your pet’s caregiver and pays for your pet’s needs as they come up.
Every person has different goals and circumstances. There really is no one-size-fits-all solution to Estate Planning. That’s why it’s important to find an attorney that understands and cares to help you make the most of everything you’ve worked so hard for and ensure that your final wishes will be carried out. Create a customized comprehensive Estate Plan that best suits your unique situation with the Law Office of Antoinette Bone today!
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