While many people find it challenging to devote the time necessary to drafting a comprehensive estate plan, even less might understand that revisions are often necessary. As the foundation of all estate plans, the will is a crucial document. Even with the ability to review, edit and revise as necessary, there are several factors that should not be ignored on the first draft.
Essentially, the will can be as general or detailed as you’d prefer, but you should remember to include three things that people often forget to consider:
- Digital assets: From your electronic collection of movies to your stake in an online storefront like eBay, it is wise to include a change in ownership and written permission to change login information and transfer data. Rules and regulations regarding online property are constantly evolving, so it is wise to discuss this with your attorney and revise your will as needed.
- Travel and shipping costs: It is likely that some of your heirs live hundreds of miles away or even across the ocean. It is wise to include some language regarding the estate covering any travel costs or the cost to ship inherited items. Without specific terms in place, the heir might be held accountable for these expenses.
- Personal loans: It is not uncommon for family members to loan money back and forth as the years go on. When these loans reach thousands of dollars, however, it can cause significant strain among loved ones. Even if your intention is to forgive the debt, it is wise to specifically mention this in your estate plan to prevent familial disputes about the money.
Additionally, you should take the time to mention certain sentimental property. Most wills cover the larger assets such as homes, vacation property, vehicles, a prized book collection or a family business, but there are items which might carry more sentimental value to your heirs. A paperweight, for example, could be a reminder of a summer internship or a piece of artwork could be a gift from a favorite nephew who would like it back as a keepsake.
It is wise to work with an experienced attorney who can guide you through this process and provide insight at every turn. From determining contingencies to naming secondary beneficiaries, the development of a complete estate plan might seem overwhelming if you tackle it on your own.