Categories
Blog

You’re Worth So Much More Than Your Assets

Estate Planning is Much More than Financial Assets

For the most part, estate planning is about how we wish to see your assets divided among your beneficiaries. And by having a legally valid estate & inheritance plan in place, you can effectively minimize time, costs, and the administrative headaches of probate. In essence, the purpose of estate planning has always been to optimize your estate and ease the process for the surviving family.

But there is so much more to estate & inheritance planning. People consider the hard assets (e.g., money and assets) they’ll leave behind but often fail to consider the opportunity to impart moral and sentimental value to loved ones left behind.  

Anyone who has received a sentimental item from a loved one who has since passed on a loved one has experienced that the bequeath includes much more than the value assigned to the material possessions inherited.

And many of us have witnessed families at odds over who gets the favorite golf club, the old piano, or another such family “heirloom”–often just as important to family members as a hard financial asset. Whether it’s grandma’s wedding dress or Dad’s coffee mug, these items may be of little tangible value, but they embody our favorite childhood memories.

The OneDigitalTrust estate & inheritance planning platform is designed to specifically accommodate the distribution of such items of high emotional value but low financial value in a manner that sidesteps family strife. This makes it so much easier for an Executor to distribute these items guided by wishes which have been declared in writing.  

Take some time and think about the cornerstones of your family life. Think about your legacy, and be rest assured that you have personal items which have the capacity to provide a lifetime of emotional value to a beloved family member or friend. 

Value & Life Learnings are Priceless 

A lifetime’s worth of lessons learned, in childhood, young adulthood, and as an aging family elder are impossible to encapsulate into an estate planning platform that merely produces legal documents. Our cultural heritage, family values, what inspires us, and our successes and failures, are all so intertwined in how we’ve come to know ourselves. Family members and mentors impact us in ways both known and unknown.

The highs and lows of our life stories comprise a core part of our legacy. They carry through everything you’ve instilled in those we leave behind. But it’s so easy to leave part of the story untold. We can make these life lessons part of what we bequeath to our descendants. Inevitably, there is much we didn’t say, couldn’t say, or forgot to say. We can tell our story, share our insights, and deepen our family’s understanding of all that is our legacy.

And on the flip side of the experiential legacy are items of sentimental value. Prior planning and written declaration of who is to inherit diaries, photographs or videos, military medals, and other memorabilia of significance to family members will be a kindness that can avert hurt feelings and misunderstandings down the road.

Although some items may seem inconsequential to others, these tangible links have weight and symbolism; they’re an important piece of you that your family will want to hold on to. Whether it’s Grandad’s purple heart or Mom’s military uniform, these items can help those you care about feel comforted and connected long after you’re gone.

So while traditional estate planning often overlooks emotional attachment to objects or the significance of shared family values and life events — the OneDigitalTrust platform offers unique tools and assistance to make such actions official. 

Your Family Would Love to Learn More About You

History usually repeats itself. And, in many ways, we’re a product of those who came before. Within each of us is a desire to strive for better, to ask more of ourselves and deliver on it. Most people spend their lives either making up for their families’ shortcomings or trying to do right by their legacy.

Your family wants to hear, in your own words, what really matters to you in life. What were your parents like when you were young? How did you struggle? What controversial decisions did you make but still stand by? And out of everything you know now, what do you especially wish you knew back then?

 

An All-Digital Estate Planning Platform Makes this Easier

While wealth acquired through wise investments or a rewarding career may have made us financially stable, we are worth more than appears on the balance sheet. In fact, to the people that count, your life story is the most valuable part of your estate plan. Unfortunately, most of us live our lives without knowing what drove our parents and grandparents and how they became the people we knew and loved. And there are a few effective estate & inheritance planning solutions to guide us in these sensitive and delicate matters.

Fortunately, One Digital Trust offers a service to create a digital archive of your life history. On their estate planning platform, you can include precious sentimental items, the tangible and the intangible. Create a comprehensive estate plan that takes care of everything you cherish. You can read our blog on “How to Bequeath Sentimental Items” for more information.

Collecting and cataloging information on your entire portfolio can be time- and labor-intensive. To have your comprehensive record of personal information, assets, and legacy stored with bank-grade legal and digital security means your estate is easily accessible for decades.

So while money is always helpful for your beneficiaries, preserving your memories and words of wisdom have an extraordinary capacity to soothe and encourage all those who knew you and guide the many generations yet to come.

Categories
Blog

Why Estate Planning can be a great New Year Resolution

‘Tis the Season for Estate Planning

The New Year usually offers up a batch of resolutions to help us change our ways and set new goals. We look forward to the new year ahead, excited at the prospect of offering fresh energy and a new approach–of bringing an improved version of ourselves into the future.

So, our resolutions often start with the most common actionable goals. We commit to eating healthier, exercising more, and organizing our home office. But there may be other highly impactful goals to be set and achieved?

There can’t be a better New Year’s resolution to make–and keep–than estate planning. And with just a little focus and application you can provide immeasurable comfort and security for your family. Families come together during the holidays as an expression of love and caring. Any discussion about an estate plan is also an expression of love, protection and caring for the surviving family left behind. When brought up with tact and sensitivity, it can be one of the best things to accomplish this holiday season – to ensure that the living legacy of a loved one has been safeguarded. Unfortunately, a majority of U.S. adults do not have a plan. With the advent of web-based platforms like OneDigitalTrust that both simplify the process and make it truly affordable, there is no excuse for anyone not to have a legally valid estate & inheritance plan in place.

And what could be better than this holiday season to show love.

Sometimes, just the idea of estate planning can raise all sorts of questions and bring up a slew of conflicting emotions, many of which boil down to facing some challenging realities. But we know that the advantages will far outweigh the disadvantages. And therein lies the big payoff. Your satisfaction in securing your family’s financial future–to the full extent of your abilities and resources–is worth any temporary discomfort.

Proper estate planning will minimize the legal interventions, translating directly to time and money saved. Make this start of the new year the time you finally meet with your family and discuss future contingencies. Let them know you’re putting a plan together to protect them if you’re not there to help ensure their welfare.

Estate Planning is Not as Daunting as You Think

When it comes to making complicated financial decisions, especially those that involve some hard calls, many of us procrastinate and stall. Let us provide some simple tools to help you turn this seemingly daunting task into easy-to-follow, manageable steps. Our blog titled “5 Reasons Why People Fail to do any Estate Planning” provides good insight why so many have failed to plan for this eventuality. 

Security Matters–New Year’s Day and Every Other Day

We all wish for continued good fortune and health for ourselves and our families. Yet, we understand that life is nothing if not uncertain. And we know that, in the end, we will rest easier if our family’s financial future is secure. Did you know that most Americans do not have a will or estate plan? So what happens to your family if you’re not here to make tomorrow’s decisions? This uncertainty is not what you want for your loved ones. See our blog  on talking to aging parents about estate planning for  some helpful guidance to familiarize you with the process and get you started.

Estate Planning Makes Good Financial Sense

Do you wonder  about the affordability of estate planning? In general, its cost will depend on the size and complexity of your estate. Of course, dying without a will or estate plan means there will likely be court and legal interventions, according to state law. When the courts intervene, there are at least two things that are highly probable: your estate will take longer in probate, and you’ll pay more in taxes and fees. 

Organization Matters!

Any New Year’s resolution with any chance of successful resolution starts with a good checklist. Estate planning is no exception. Organizing your assets digitally and securing original documents or hard copies is the first and most important step in the process. Once organized, you can write a will and specify a financial and medical power of attorney. And remember to update beneficiaries on your bank accounts to help minimize the probate period.

Build Trust and Confidence this New Year

Family dynamics can contribute to the many reasons why you might be uncomfortable with estate planning or sharing your plans with your family members. But in the end, it is time to make the tough decisions, have the hard conversations, and do what you can to benefit your family. And while family members are not necessarily all on board with your decisions, at least it’s all out in the open, and you can build from there.

So, as uncomfortable as tackling this ‘Estate Planning’ goal might initially seem, this is not something to leave for another year. We’re here to help you start estate planning. As New Year’s resolutions go, putting your affairs in order will be a proud accomplishment. Nothing says “responsible, right, loving action” like creating an estate plan for your family. 

Categories
Blog

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. 

 

Categories
Blog

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!

Categories
Blog

Inheritance Planning Crossword Puzzle #1

Estate IQ

Inheritance Planning Crossword Puzzle #1

First off, thanks for taking the time to engage with our crossword puzzle.

OneDigitalTrust is committed to increasing knowledge about estate and inheritance planning. We’ve designed our platform to make users more educated and knowledgeable about the inheritance planning process and terminology so they’ll be better informed about their choices.

Bottom line:  the 65+ population in the U.S. is growing at an  unprecedented rate. Between 2020 and 2060 the number of older adults will increase by 69% (from 54 Million to 95 Million); during the same period, the 85+ population is projected to TRIPLE (from 7 Million to 19 Million)1.

We believe that at some point you’re likely to serve as an executor (or a support role) in the estate plan of a loved one or a friend in some way, so learning more about estate & inheritance planning makes sense. We’re motivated to think of creative ways to spread awareness about this topic and share important tidbits of information.

 1 Source: Population Reference Bureau (www.prb.org)

 

If you are a trusted provider-institution serving your customer’s financial needs, why not add inheritance planning to your range of offerings? Fill out the form on this page and we’ll show you how you can empower your customers to complete essential end-of-life planning, using our customizable, white-label platform. We offer several flexible pricing

options for your institution to make the platform available to your  customers, branded as yours.

Instructions:

  Click on a clue (Across or Down) and the word will highlight in the puzzle
–  Type in the correct word to solve; click enter
–  If correct, a green check will appear; else a red cross will appear

 The puzzle is below – good luck completing it!

 

Categories
Blog

The Most Valuable Part of Your Estate Plan: Your Story

How to Get Started on Preserving Your Life Stories

The things we leave behind aren’t the only things that matter when we pass away. What is just as, if not more, important is the legacy we leave behind. 

Think of it this way, what will happen to your life stories when you pass away? Will your family have questions that can’t be answered once you are gone? Will you be able to impart your knowledge and lessons before leaving this world? 

Here is why your life stories are the most valuable part of your estate plan, plus, how to start documenting and preserving your stories: 

Your Stories Matter

We live our lives, often thinking that our lives are inconsequential. However, your stories have value and meaning. Passing them on can mean a great deal to your family too. 

If you don’t think your life stories are important, here are some questions to ponder: 

Did your ancestors record their stories? If not, do you wish they had?

What would it mean to you and your children to be able to read their stories in their own words?

What lessons and inspiration could you learn from their life experiences?

Once you are gone, preserving your stories in writing is the only way your stories can live on in your own voice. That is why it is so important to document your life stories, valuable lessons, and knowledge for future generations in your family. 

Why You Should Record Your Story

Other than preservation and imparting knowledge, why else should you document your life stories? There are several reasons. 

The first is that it provides a view of your family’s history. Many people are using online services to research their family history, but think of how rich that history could be with first-hand stories! 

Every person’s life is a sacred journey. It encompasses growth, discovery, and transformation. By passing along your unique stories, you are adding to shared family history.  

Second, our life stories provide knowledge, information, and inspiration to future generations. Your life matters and what you learn along the way matters! Documenting your stories allows you to share your failures and successes, along with knowledge on how to find the strength to confront difficult challenges. It also allows you to pass on your key values. By imparting your knowledge through documenting your life stories, you’ll help inform and inspire family members for generations to come.

Finally, your stories help keep the connection to the source of your family’s financial wealth. In other words, your stories provide true meaning to the assets you are passing on to your loved ones, especially when you document how you gained your wealth or acquired a sentimental item. 

Recording your life stories is an essential part of legacy planning, and can be far more significant and enduring than financial wealth.

What it Means for You

While focusing on what preserving your stories mean for those you leave behind is important, it has key benefits for you too.

Recording your stories gives you an opportunity to reflect on your own life. You have the opportunity to look back on the things that had the most profound impact on you, helping give you perspective. Documenting your stories can help you focus on what truly matters and what is most important for your future. 

What it Means for Others

We touched a bit already on the meaning your stories can have for others, such as how your stories provide meaning to your assets your family will inherit. But more importantly, sharing your stories, especially those that involve your family members, can help your family learn and understand things about themselves and others. 

Further, intentionally recording your story can ensure that your message and values live on after you are gone. When your family has a better understanding of your values, it can help to minimize or reduce disputes among family over your assets once you are gone. 

How to Start Writing

Staring at a blank piece of paper or computer screen when sitting down to write our stories can be very intimidating for most. But remember, writing is a process! 

One way to begin that process is to create an outline of what is most important to you and your most memorable life lessons and stories. Think about writing a letter to someone to say thank you, apologize, or share important information. This gives you a great place to begin writing. 

You might also consider writing your stories as if you were speaking to a yet-to-be-born grandchild or great-grandchild. Describe where you came from, how you got to where you are, and how you overcame some of your biggest life challenges. Talk about your choices, your greatest joys, biggest regrets and share advice on whatever you think is important. 

Help with Guided Discovery

Having a little help along the way can ensure that you are documenting the most important things about your life that you wish to impart to future generations. 

OneDigitalTrust’s platform offers a simple way to document your life stories, plus resources built in to help you know what to write. Here, you have the capability to use and write about why you’ve written your will the way that you did. You can also add expressions of gratitude or regrets and even the emotions you are experiencing at the end of your life. Our platform also allows you to update your life stories periodically to keep everything up to date so you don’t miss a single important thing! 

Be sure to head to “stories” within the platform for some good content on how to write about your story (we make it easy to do this right in the platform!). Pro Tip: Documenting your life stories is not meant to be overwhelming for you or your family. Keep your stories bite-sized. Each one should be about a key experience in your life. 

Conclusion

Remember, there are no rules when it comes to writing down your life story. Your story is as unique as the individual that you are, so don’t worry about any set guidelines. This is your story! The only way to fail is to not write your life story down at all. 

 

Categories
Blog

No Estate Plan? Why You Should Care About the Consequences!

The Consequences for You and Your Family by Not Having an Estate Plan

There are a lot of excuses that people have for putting off estate planning. Some think they are too young and have plenty of time to worry about estate planning later. Others think they just aren’t wealthy enough to need estate planning, and many believe their family will know what to do with their assets when they are gone.

The truth is, estate planning is important no matter your age or your wealth. Bad accidents or serious illnesses can happen to anyone at any age and leaving it up to your family when you are gone just doesn’t always work out like you think it will. 

In other words, there are serious consequences of not having an estate plan and living will.

1 | Stress and Complications

Your family is already grieving and asking them to figure out how to bequeath your assets is stressful and can add to their grief. By having an estate plan in place, you are taking the stress of having to figure it out from the equation. Many families find comfort in knowing that they are honoring your final wishes by following your estate plan. 

If you don’t have an estate plan, your family may have to go to probate court, which could cause time delays and creates uncertainty and angst during the waiting period. Probate court can also be expensive. Leaving the decision up to a judge could even cause conflict between family members who are already grieving. 

All of this can be avoided by having an estate plan in place. 

2 | You Won’t Get a Choice Who Inherits Your Assets

If you pass away with no plan in place, the court decides who inherits your assets, and they may decide differently from how you would have. Having an estate plan in place is especially important if you want someone outside of your blood relatives to inherit some or all of your assets, as a probate court often does not consider non-blood relatives for inheritance. As family dynamics have changed over the years, older statutes have not always kept up, and if not defined in a will, those you intended may not receive your assets. 

However, with an estate plan in place, you have full control over who inherits your assets. 

3 | Your Heirs Will Have a Bigger Tax Burden

Estate planning isn’t just about ensuring the right people inherit your assets. It’s also about protecting your loved ones. This means protecting them from the large tax burden they would have with no estate plan in place. Those who plan can be as strategic as possible to minimize the tax implications upon their passing. 

Having an estate plan in place to transfer your assets means creating the smallest possible tax burden for your loved ones. Be sure to speak with a financial advisor who will be able to help you set up your estate plan in a way that creates the smallest possible tax burden for your loved ones. OneDigitalTrust platform can approximate probate costs, federal estate tax and even state estate tax, and inheritance tax in the few states that currently levy them.

4 | You Won’t Get to Choose Who Raises Your Children

As the parent of minor children, it’s imperative that you appoint a legal guardian to gain custody of your children should something happen to you. This could be the most crucial reason to create your estate plan as the absence of a plan could be detrimental to your children. 

When there is no legal guardian named, a judge will appoint one. However, this judge does not know your family as intimately as you do, and this could have severe consequences for your family, but most importantly, your children. This could lead to messy custody battles in court. Messy court battles after the loss of a parent can further damage your child’s mental health during an already traumatic season of life. 

However, having an estate plan in place that names a legal guardian can help your children and family avoid the trauma of a court battle. This can be helpful for situations with your fur babies as well!

5 | Takes More Time and there’s a Higher Cost for Attorneys 

Emotional damage isn’t the only consequence of not having a plan in place. When your family must go through an extensive probate process because you have no plan, it takes more time to resolve issues. Because it takes more time, the cost for attorneys will be higher for your family.

By having a plan in place, you are saving your family from a financial headache. A plan can also mean that your wishes are honored in a more timely manner, allowing your family to work through their grief, rather than hold onto it because of a court claim. 

6 | If Incapacitated, You Lose Control Over Your Life Decisions

Bad accidents can happen to anyone at any time. While we may not die from a bad accident, it is possible that we become incapacitated and can not make decisions about our care in those moments. So not only is planning for your eventual death important, but so is planning for the possibility of becoming incapacitated. 

Not having a living will in place leaves the decision to your loved ones, meaning you have no say in your financial and medical decisions. These decisions can include whether you should remain on life support or not. Leaving hard decisions such as this up to your family can cause strife between family members with differing opinions, leading to expensive and traumatic court battles. 

When you have a living will, you specifically lay out what you want and your family will be able to honor your wishes. This helps to avoid arguments over what they think you would want and expensive court battles.   

Are You Ready to Work on Your Estate Plan? 

Estate planning doesn’t have to be done in traditional attorneys’ offices. OneDigitalTrust has reinvented personal legacy and estate planning for the digital age. We empower users to always be prepared for events across life stages by making it easy to create and maintain your estate plan. 

We work directly with financial institutions by augmenting their existing digital footprint and capabilities. We even offer a personalized platform to deliver this easy-to-use service to your customers. Learn more about how we can help you deliver estate planning to your customers. 

Categories
External Articles

OneDigitalTrust named in Top Twenty Most Promising Technology Companies in 2022

OneDigitalTrust was selected and featured by SiliconIndia magazine in their 2022 siTech20 issue which showcases the twenty most promising technology companies in the US which are founded and managed by Indians in the US. 

Click here to read the article in the digital issue on the publisher’s website.

Categories
Blog

Avoid Headaches from Settling an Insolvent Estate

Three Challenges for the Executor when Administering an Insolvent Estate

Debt is a part of life for the majority of us. As an executor, settling debts on behalf of the deceased can be a burdensome task, especially when it is a loved one that the executor just lost. However, that task can become all the more complicated when you find that there are insufficient assets left in the estate to cover all debts and liabilities, which is the case in insolvent estates. 

An insolvent estate can be much more complicated, costly, and burdensome for the executor, making it important for them to understand what to expect. In other words, they need to know what they might be walking into.

Here are the challenges and complications you should consider.

Challenge #1: What Debts Should be Paid First?

One of the first things an executor for an insolvent estate will have to deal with is what debts should be paid first. It’s important to understand that state law can dictate this order of priority, as the probate process is done through the state and those laws can differ from one state to the next. 

However, you can expect to follow this general order of priority:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Estate expenses (legal, executor, and court fees)
  • Taxes
  • Creditors
  • Payments to beneficiaries

Challenge #2: What Happens When an Estate Doesn’t Have Enough to Pay Taxes and Debts?

One of the biggest questions an executor may have is, if there isn’t enough to pay the debts, are they personally responsible for paying the deceased’s taxes or debts. The answer to this is no, with a few exceptions.

The first exception is that if you were a co-signer on a loan with the deceased, you will still be responsible for that loan. Second, if you are the surviving spouse in a community property state, you will still be responsible for those payments as well. 

It’s also important to understand that most states provide creditors a set period of time to come forward and make a claim against the estate once a person has passed away. If a creditor does make a claim, the executor may potentially have to deal with those creditors directly. Probate court will determine the validity of any claims made in the allotted time, so only deal with creditors that the court has determined have a valid claim. 

If the estate runs out of money or available liquid assets prior to all debts and taxes being paid, the executor must petition the court to declare the estate insolvent. This means that beneficiaries named in a will won’t receive any assets or cash distributions, charitable estate giving is nil, and unpaid creditors will remain unpaid. 

Challenge #3: What Happens When an Estate Doesn’t Have Enough to Pay Beneficiaries?

One of the biggest challenges an executor can face is when there is enough to pay all the debts and taxes, but not enough to pay beneficiaries named in the will. The reason this can become a tricky situation is that some heirs may feel entitled to funds or specific property that had to be liquidated to pay debts. 

Just like with debts and taxes, the executor is not personally liable for paying beneficiaries. However, it’s important to know that some beneficiaries may petition the court if they believe there was mismanagement of the estate funds that resulted in the loss of their benefits. Probate court will oversee the process with beneficiaries as well, deciding which beneficiaries will receive what amounts. If there isn’t enough, the court may issue a reduction, referred to as an abatement. 

Conclusion

Managing an estate with significant debts can be a big challenge and higher complexity for an Executor. Leaving a ton of surprises for loved ones when it comes to debts and taxes can be troubling for many. To alleviate the fears one may have about leaving an insolvent estate to their heirs, OneDigitalTrust can help identify if an estate is at risk of insolvency before it becomes a bigger headache for everyone involved. Learn more about our revolutionary digital legacy planning platform for your or your clients, by heading to our website today. 

Categories
Blog

How to Bequeath Sentimental Items in a Way that Sidesteps Contention and Family Strife

Tips to Help You Bequeath Items in a Way that Avoids Family Conflict


We’ve seen the portrayals in the media of family members fighting over sentimental items after a loved one’s death. These scenes aren’t totally from fantasy–it does happen in real life! However, more importantly, we all have something to pass on and planning for that bequeathment can be a simple and wonderful way to be remembered by your loved ones.

But how can you bequeath sentimental items in a way that helps avoid family strife and contention? Here’s how.

1 | Have a Plan

Having an estate plan is an essential part of avoiding family strife after you pass away. By having a plan in place, you are letting your loved ones know exactly what your wishes are. And when your family members are able to follow your plan, it gives them peace of mind knowing they are honoring your final wishes.

Having a plan to divide assets can also help avoid costly and traumatic legal battles. When you have no plan in place, this means that either your family needs to figure it out or it can go to court when there are disagreements or larger assets. Legal battles can get messy, drawn out, expensive, and don’t allow for the healing process to begin in earnest after your passing.

Remember, family members generally want to honor the wishes of their loved one. Fighting is less likely to break out if you have an estate plan in place.

2 | Talk About Your Plans

Good communication helps avoid conflict in all kinds of situations, including what happens to your assets after your passing. Talking to your family about your estate plans ahead of time can help them to further understand your decisions. This is because you have a chance to talk more about the “why” and answer questions your family may have, which can’t be done after you are gone. This also allows your family time to process and more fully understand your wishes so that when the time comes, they know exactly what you want and any issues have already been resolved. This can be especially important to do if you are leaving someone out of the will.

3 | Give Gifts During Your Lifetime

Another option for avoiding strife and tension after your passing is to disburse sentimental items before you die. Not only will the recipient get to enjoy those items for longer, but it also avoids claims to them after your passing. Consider giving these sentimental items as gifts for birthdays or holidays.

This strategy assumes, however, that the item is below the annual gift tax exclusion. Items of greater value require a gift tax return be filed and may entail taxes. Be sure to talk to your financial advisor to understand whether your loved one may incur a gift tax or not.

4 | Other Ways to Avoid Family Discord

Some other options for avoiding family strife when dividing up sentimental items include:

Writing a letter of instruction on who gets what (this is not legally binding, but does serve as a roadmap)

Deferring to an independent fiduciary (a family executor must formally decline the appointment, however, steps should be taken for family members to agree on who will act as the independent fiduciary)

Using a lottery (as simple as writing a brief description of each item on a slip of paper, placing it into a hat, and allowing family members to take turns drawing until the hat is empty)

Final Thoughts

Estate planning not only allows you to dictate who receives what, but can help minimize bad feelings among family members. With OneDigitalTrust, you can empower your members to take control of their estate planning. Our digital platform makes it easy for members to create their estate plan and adjust it through all their life changes. You can create digital memories about the sentimental items that you bequeath by using photos, audio recordings and video about the item, all within the platform…..and share the memories (through the platform) privately with loved ones. Learn more about our next-generation digital platform that makes it simple for users to create and maintain their plans by visiting our website today!