Monthly Archives: April 2014

Does your estate plan address digital assets?

We live in a world where technology continues to advance and our population evolves with the new technology. Years ago, you probably never imagined that you would be so reliant on your cellphone or tablet for staying connected to your family, friends and even co-workers. However, times have changed and the online world has become a part of our daily lives whether we like it or not. 

Due to the role technology plays in our lives, it is important to address digital assets in your estate plan. Most people have some digital assets that should be included in their estate plan to help their loved ones know what to do with their possessions after you pass away. Unfortunately, many people fail to include digital assets in their estate plan, which can make life very difficult for their loved ones.

When your heirs don’t have knowledge or access to your digital assets, it can be difficult for your loved ones to retrieve online financial accounts, photos and documents. Even if your family knows about your accounts and has the passwords, they may not legally be able to access the accounts depending on the privacy agreements with each company. 

This is why you need to address digital assets in your estate plan now before it’s too late. Digital assets can include online financial accounts, social media accounts, photos, website domains, music accounts like iTunes, stock accounts and a variety of other accounts. 

If you want to include digital assets in your estate plan, you should put instructions on how to access them and what to do with your digital assets in your will or other estate planning document. You may want to store your passwords in a different location and not in your estate plan. You can also designate an executor for managing your digital assets, which can include specific instructions on what to do with each account. 

Every estate plan is different and every person has a unique set of circumstances to consider when creating an estate plan. Individuals should contact an estate planning attorney to discuss their specific issues. 

Source: USA Today, “Estate plan should pass down digital heirlooms,” Sue Doerfler, April 17, 2014

More than 50 percent of Americans don’t have a will

As you get older, many Americans accumulate more wealth, property and heirlooms they may want to pass onto their loved ones. The best way to address your wealth and possessions and what you want to happen to them is by having a will. Despite the many benefits, many Americans still don’t have a will.

A new survey by Rocket Lawyer found that 51 percent of people between the ages of 55 to 64 haven’t drafted a will. Among individuals 45 to 54, only 62 percent have a will. Why do so many Americans not have a will? The reason varies from person to person, but the most common reasons people said they don’t have a will include not having the time to create one, not feeling the urgency to create a will, not thinking they need a will and some don’t want to think about dying. 

Even though these reasons seem to be very common in the United States, they are not valid reasons for not having a will. Everyone should have a will, regardless of how much wealth they have or how old they are. Young adults to the elderly can benefit from having a will. 

What is the consequence of dying without a will? If you don’t have a will at the time of your death in California, your loved ones may not know your wishes and it can make it more difficult or impossible for them to inherit your assets. 

Having a will is very helpful for you and your family. A will can make sure your loved ones are cared for as well as make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Having a will can also help your family avoid heated debates because they will know what you want and hopefully honor those wishes. 

Even if you think you have plenty of time to draft a will, do it sooner rather than later for the benefit of everyone you love. 

Source: Forbes, “Americans’ Ostrich Approach To Estate Planning,” Richard Eisenberg, April 9, 2014