Estate Planning is a topic that frequently makes people fall asleep, so please curb the urge for a moment. First, let’s answer that question, “Do you need a Will?”
There, all done, right?
Probably not, because the odds are not favorable for you having a Will at all, much less an up-to-date document. Here is the sad news; 6-in-10 Americans have neither a Will nor a Trust. It is not, however, only older people who die. It can happen to anyone, as you can easily read on the life expectancy tables produced by the life insurance industry. Why take the chance?
Young people have a tendency to avoid the issue, because they have no significant assets (in their own minds, that is). Listen up, young people. You go online to Social Media, do you not? Once you do, you now have a Digital Estate. What would you like done with it when you are gone?
Let’s start easy – “nobody has nothing,” which perhaps sounds like poor grammar, but it makes my point. You most likely have a Facebook page, and probably others to supplement that. Most of us have far more personal digital content “out there” than simply social media. How about passwords for items such as:
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Credit cards
- Medical records
- Social Security
- Personal emails
- Business emails
- Amazon Prime
- Insurance records
We simply take these items for granted, with easy access pretty much any time or place. So, what happens when we pass away? Our records still exist, which in its own right could be a problem. Does anyone really believe that an identity thief really cares about your continued ability to fog a mirror?
Further, how will our loved ones and/or heirs access these records? Do you want them deleted or preserved, or a combination? Recently, estate planners have addressed these situations, and we are seeing these clauses in new documents. If your Wills, Trusts, etc., are more than a couple years old, these items were most likely not addressed.
The discussion of death and dying is never pleasant, but as financial planners, we must, and do, deal with these topics with our clients. We all have to face our own mortality.
After all, your life’s work, financially speaking, is your estate. Take care of more than your money! Direct your digital asset disposition, your monetary asset distribution, your family relationships and responsibilities, and your identity, whether dead or alive. And here is one more sage piece of advice:
Van Wie Financial is fee-only. For a reason.