When people accumulate wealth and property, they often think of ways to protect them. Most people who consider estate planning think of utilizing wills and trusts to protect their wealth for the benefit of their loved one. This is, in fact, a large part of estate planning, and it should be addressed consistently and appropriately. Doing so can allow an individual to protect his or her estate from unwanted taxes and distribution, and it can allow him or her to retain control over the estate’s wealth for years to come.
Yet, dealing with major assets is not the only purpose of estate planning. Many people fail to consider engaging in “soft” estate planning. An example of soft estate planning is delineating how one’s funeral will play. By utilizing estate planning tools, an individual can dictate the music he or she wants played at his or her funeral, whether burial or cremation is appropriate and even whether flowers will be accepted.
Another matter to address through soft estate planning is how digital assets and social media accounts will be handled. It may be critically important for one’s heirs and beneficiaries to access these accounts so that claims can be made for particular assets, like frequent flier miles, and other accounts can be shut down. By leaving behind usernames and passwords, an individual can also better ensure that accounts and assets are not lost.
Two of the keys to successful estate planning are being thorough and specific. Doing so leaves very room for interpretation, which can be the death knell for one’ asset distribution plan. In order to remain thorough and specific during the life of an estate plan, though, a creator needs to revisit it frequently.
An attorney who is skilled in this area of the law can prove beneficial in creating a holistic initial estate plan as well as modifying it when needed. Those attorneys who are experienced in this field will know how to use estate planning tools to address both traditional and soft estate planning issues to ensure that the future of one’s estate and final affairs are arranged in accordance with expressed wishes.