Some people take extensive care of their estate plans, spending months or years crafting the perfect plan, ensuring that each asset will pass smoothly to heirs and beneficiaries. Often this involves a regular review of estate planning documents.
However, details can be missed.
The reality is that most people do not review their estate plans extensively. Instead, there is the hope that all the major issues were covered the first time around, and that the plan is semi-permanent, barring any major life events. If this has been your approach up to now, here are some things that you may consider updating in your estate plan:
A plan for your pets
Most people think first about their homes, children, bank accounts and other investments when planning an estate. Many families forget to include the furriest family member, their pet. However, there are pet trusts that you can set up to protect any type of pet, from dogs to parrots.
These trusts allow you to detail how you want your pets to be taken care of, who will take care of them, and how much money you want to leave for your pets. If that seems excessive, you can name a caregiver for your pet in your will.
Along with pets, people tend to neglect plans surrounding the end of their lives. It’s challenging to think about the end of your life, but it is important, as you can alleviate your family’s burdens by clarifying your wishes regarding healthcare decisions, life-extending care and funeral arrangements.
If you don’t know where to start, work with a close family member or your spouse to clarify your wishes and how you eventually would like to say goodbye. You can then write out your wishes and work with your attorney to include those wishes in your will and other documents.
A plan discussing your beliefs
To expand on your “end of life” wishes, you may want to document your ethical values and beliefs. This can help guide your heirs and loved ones as they go through probate and think about how best to respect your final wishes.
This aspect of your plan can be as simple or complex as you like. It could be as simple as a list of bullet points with values and principles that you would like respected.
The suggestions here are relatively easy to include in your estate plan. You don’t have to worry about revising an entire will to include a beloved pet or provide other guidance. Just work with your estate planning attorney to ensure that any changes you make are legally sound and enforceable.