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The Importance of Having Clients Re-Examine Their Will

When to Encourage Clients to Take Another Look and Why

You know the saying life passes you by when you are having fun? That old saying has never been more true than it is today. Life seems to fly by even during challenging times and the regular day-to-day of it all. But all of that forward motion also means change!

The Importance of Re-Examining a Will

With all of the advances in technology and the quicker evolution of society, life events come at an even faster speed. 

Because of this, it is important to have more frequent check-ins on your will to re-evaluate your estate and inheritance plan. Think of it like portfolio calibration. You wouldn’t just buy a few stocks and then leave your portfolio to “do its thing” and not adjust it as financial situations and needs change, would you? 

Checking in periodically and re-examining a will can help clients adjust it when needed for when life changes. It can also keep an eye on possible probate exposure and so much more. 

Times When Clients Should Re-Examine and Update their Will

While some wills do stand the test of time, there are many things people just may not consider at one point in their life when writing up their will that could arise later in life. Here are some times when clients should re-examine and consider updating their will.

  • If they change their principal place of residence (e.g. they retire to another state)
  • After the birth of a child
  • If they are thinking about divorce or have gotten divorced
  • When a child gets married
  • When a beneficiary develops a creditor or substance abuse problem
  • When named executors or beneficiaries die
  • When a young family member becomes an independent adult
  • New legislation is passed that could derail your estate plan (such as tax laws)
  • If you come into a windfall of money, such as stock earnings, an inheritance, or winning the lottery
  • When the original will can’t be found
  • When family or friends become “enemies” and have a change of heart about distribution of assets (e.g. disinheritance) 

An Easier Way to Update Wills

Okay, so there is a need to re-examine and update wills more often these days. But is there an easier way to do this? Yes! Let’s dispel those old, outdated practices!

With OneDigitalTrust, you can help clients take the stress out of estate planning and make it easy to not only create an estate plan, but update it often to ensure they continue to protect their family’s future. Our platform is the most comprehensive digital platform for estate and inheritance planning with enterprise-grade capabilities. The best part is that periodically, the platform will automatically send a message to clients nudging them to check the health of their estate plan. In a few minutes they are done, and if necessary, they are prompted to reprint new documents that supersede the previous version. It’s as simple as that.

We offer robust estate planning services with bank-grade data security. Your clients can create and store all of their estate planning documents on a single platform, ensuring a will is never lost again and is easy to access and update through all of life’s various stages. Our solutions include hardwired aggregation tools, auto-probate exposure checks, trust funding gap detection, and legally valid documents for all 50 states plus Washington DC. 

Our platform can also be integrated into your own branding with robust customization capabilities. This allows you to not only complement your own existing offerings, but do it in a way that builds even greater trust and loyalty between you and your clients. 

Finally, it’s important to choose a platform that is capable of lifelong service. OneDigitalTrust continues to evolve with the needs of your clients, allowing them to re-examine their will at any time and make changes when they need to. So let’s help your clients take the stress out of updating their will together! Learn more about our robust digital estate planning platform today. 

 

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Know What You Need to Know: What Should You Actually Have on Your Radar as Your Parents Age?

Why Talking with Aging Parents about Inheritance Planning is a Personal Responsibility

No one likes to talk about their inevitable death or the death of a loved one, but the key word here is “inevitable.” 

While conversations around planning for this eventuality with your parents may be uncomfortable, they are imperative. Why? Because having this conversation before it’s too late means you won’t need to deal with greater concerns on top of grieving when the time comes. 

If there is no plan for your parents’ assets, it can cause strife or complications in the family when you should instead be focused on grieving and healing. 

It’s not just what happens after your parent’s death, but other needs as they age as well. Here are the top things you need to discuss with your parents before it’s too late.

Living Will and Powers of Attorney

If your parents don’t yet have a living will, now is the time to create one! This legal document is a written directive with instructions regarding a person’s preferences for medical care and financial decisions if they are unable to make the decisions for themselves. This is extremely important if your parent becomes terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, develops dementia, or is near the end of their life. While your parents are writing up their living will, you should do one at the same time because unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age!

A power of attorney is a type of advance directive in which the individual names a person to make decisions for them when they are unable to do so. This can be health care or financial decisions. Speaking of finances, be sure to speak with your parents about getting important passwords for bank accounts and even social media accounts so that you can access them or close them when the time comes. 

Will or Trust

Estate planning can be a difficult conversation to have, but having your parents divide out assets prior to their death can make everyone’s lives a little less complicated and cut down on strife from fighting over assets. The reason it cuts down on clashes between family members is because most people really want to honor their loved one’s final wishes of who gets what. Having it down in a legal document (a will) puts teeth behind those final wishes. 

Arguments often arise over the most sentimental stuff (or debt that needs to be repaid). So start with those simpler sentimental items, like mom’s amber ring from her trip to Europe or dad’s Mercedes that he fixed up. Then move on to the bigger, harder financial assets, such as savings, stocks, and the house.

Like a will, a trust distributes possessions to people and organizations after you pass. Because the trust “owns” the property you put into it while still allowing you to maintain control, it essentially preserves your assets for your loved ones and can help avoid additional delays and expenses with the court later. 

Special Needs Trust

Planning for a loved one with disabilities can present quite the challenge. If the funds or assets set aside to support them are not spelled out appropriately, they may not be eligible to receive them, or other public services. Appropriate planning, based on your state, is vital to ensure those with special needs are cared for adequately. OneDigitalTrust can automatically detect if a loved one with special needs may be at risk of being disqualified for public benefits.

Medicare Planning

Planning for the right health insurance can be complicated. Because of this, your parents shouldn’t wait until they turn 65 to start deciding on the type of Medicare plans they will need. Help your parents navigate Medicare and find the right options for them and their possible future health needs. 

Probate Exposure

Probate is the process of proving and administering a will and settling the estate of the loved one who has passed. This process ensures that debts are paid and assets are distributed according to your will. Some people have more probate exposure than others. There are several main reasons someone may want to avoid probate, but the main ones we see are time and cost. Probate is a lengthy, and often expensive, process that can be mitigated by proper planning. 

Some ways to avoid probate for certain items include joint ownership with right of survivorship and beneficiary designation forms. However, it is important to remember that probate is handled by the states, and this means that each state’s probate laws are different. The OneDigitalTrust platform actually has a proprietary built-in Probate Tracker which can automatically estimate the probate exposure of a person’s estate and allow them to explore options on what they can do to optimize probate.

Abnormal Situations

Abnormal items, such as unequal distributions or even disinheritance can cause quite the stir for some families. While this can be done, it’s important for your parents to discuss with the family why they have made the choices they have made. Providing this understanding by discussing their intentions before they pass can help avoid misunderstandings and surprises after their passing. For families that may not have healthy relationships, this can go a long way in smoothing over tensions and avoiding negative feelings, such as an heir feeling like they were cheated or left out due to oversight. 

The Complication of Blended Families

Blended families can also cause additional complications. Perhaps your parents wrote up a will during a previous marriage and haven’t changed it since. It’s important to update existing wills to add or change beneficiaries. Remarriage can also bring up the complication of equal or unequal distribution for heirs. For example, your mom remarried in her 60s and her new husband moved into her home, but your mom may want her house to go to you and not be split between you and your step-siblings or even her spouse if she passes first. This is just one example of the special considerations blended families will need to think about during estate planning. 

Estate Planning Made Easier

Estate planning is already complicated enough with all the considerations you have to think about, and having to call up your lawyer every time you want to make a change can be inconvenient and costly. 

Estate planning made easier has arrived! As we’ve just seen, there are numerous things to have on your radar as loved ones age, and it can be overwhelming to start. Instead, use the most complete platform to create and maintain your estate and inheritance plan. OneDigitalTrust removes the stress and gives you peace of mind that your legal documents are in order. Learn more about this powerful digital solution today!