You are Single and Have Less than $1 Million. Do You Still Need an Estate Plan? Every estate planning attorney will tell you that you need a Will, but when you stop and think about it, does a single person really need a Will if they have no assets? In the simplest way put, a person who dies without a Will leaves their possessions in the hands of the court to distribute. So what if that single individual with limited assets is okay with that? Take a look at the example below: Hypothetical Example: Our subject is a single person with limited assets and who does not feel they need a Will (check to see if any of these situations apply to yourself, especially if you think you do not need a Will either): The individual has no children, but does have an incapacitated family member or aging parent. The individual does not speak to her brothers and sisters who live in another state. The individual has a retirement fund for $20,000 that lists a parent as the beneficiary. The individual lives in a condo that she owns, which is about $350,000 in debt. The individual also owns expensive jewelry, a car, and some personal belongings. Where the Assets Will Go Since the state determines who receives your assets upon death, they will give those assets to a relative who is capable of managing them, which would be a surviving parent, but if that parent is incapacitated or too ill, it will go to the next eligible relative. The issues with this, however, are that the single individual also leaves their debts to those beneficiaries, does not provide any care or means to care for their ailing parents, and their assets can potentially go to family members they no longer speak to or want to give their assets to in the first place. Asset distribution is up in the air when there is no Will. Therefore, single, married, separated, or living with a life partner doesn’t matter – everyone needs a Will. Experienced estate planning attorneys Brooklyn NY of the Minko Law Office offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of Brooklyn NY. To learn more about these free resources, please visit www.minkolaw.com/ today. BLOGS Reasons Why People Have Not Started Digital Estate Planning Back in the day, an asset was something physical or at least something you could withdraw from a bank account and hold in your hand. Today is the heart of the digital age, which means people need to start working to protect their digital assets. Digital assets include documents, emails, pictures and media files. Unfortunately, most people avoid the digital planning, even if they have taken the steps to go through estate planning. Here are some common reasons why people keep avoiding the issue of protecting their digital assets. 1. Those who start estate planning are typically in their 50’s or 60’s, which means they are unlikely to access the internet. 2. The task of tracking down accounts and writing log-in credentials for estate planning is something most people do not want to go through. 3. People do not like relying on online systems to store their digital assets. 4. Some states still do not recognize the value in digital assets. 5. Some legal professionals do not understand the complexity of digital assets when they perform estate planning. If you have digital assets, you should protect them. This can be done by addressing them with an estate planning attorney as well as your family. Your family should know what you plan on doing with your digital assets after your death. This will ensure that your digital assets, whatever they may be, are protected. The Pitfalls of Poorly Drafted Estate Plans You have probably heard the rumors that one sentence that is incorrectly phrased can impact your Will and Trust tremendously, but is it true? In a short answer, yes, the wrong wording can greatly impact the outcome of your documents. Before getting more into detail, it is important to understand why proper construction of a Will and Trust are imperative for carrying out your wishes. The Purpose The entire purpose of creating a Will or Trust is to tell people exactly what you want done with your assets. Essentially, you want people to fulfill your wishes – regardless of how you felt about them or how they felt about you. The Common Issue: Ambiguous Statements The common reason for Wills and Trusts not being carried out the way a person intended is from ambiguous statements. For example, you use the phrase “I leave all of my personal property to ___”. The issue is not the person you are leaving the property to, it is the use of “personal property”. What is your personal property? There are several interpretations by the court including: Property only owned by you Property in your name Property means real estate only If you do not specify your property down to the last candlestick, the courts will have to determine what you meant. Quick Steps to Start Preserving Digital Assets Today we are in the digital age. Though you might not be ready to sit down with an estate planning attorney and hash out your Will, you can start taking these quick steps to preserve your digital assets for when the time comes. Make a List List all of your digital assets, preferably by category, including: Hardware Software Social Media Accounts Email Accounts Online accounts Online Storage Accounts Create Your Wishes Write down what you want to happen to each digital asset. This can include archiving, creating an auto-response, forwarding, or memorializing a social media account. Chose the Beneficiary Name a person that you know will respect your digital assets and select them as the beneficiary of those assets. This person will be in charge of carrying out all wishes you create for those digital assets. Provide Access When you set up your Will and Trust, you will have to provide access information to the beneficiary so that they can actually access your digital assets. That means you will have to sit down and rewrite any login credentials, including security passkeys, passwords, usernames and security questions to those accounts so that the beneficiary can access them.
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