Estate planning attorneys have to evolve along with the times, and the internet has changed the landscape in many ways. For individuals, estate planning in the digital age is going to require communicating relevant information to your executor or personal representative.
People conduct a significant amount of business online. Indeed, some folks take care of just about everything over the internet, and it can be quite efficient to handle your affairs digitally. Banking can be done online, and many people are managing their investment accounts on the internet as well. Every creditor would like to see you making digital payments and receiving digital statements, so you may pay all or most of your bills online.
Back in the day, people would leave behind keys to lock boxes or filing cabinets that would contain hard copy information. These days passwords and user names are the necessary keys that must be passed along to your trusted representative.
In addition to financial accounts, you may also have social network identities. Virtually everyone has a Facebook page, and you can leave behind instructions to have your page memorialized.
Your representative simply contacts Facebook to make them aware of your passing, and your page will be memorialized. This entails allowing existing friends and family to post their thoughts while removing the page from search results and precluding anyone who was not a friend at the time of your passing from accessing the page.
If you conduct an inventory of all of your digital accounts and leave behind relevant instructions, you will be making things easy for your representative, and as a result, the administration of your estate should go quite smoothly.
Joint Accounts and Estate Planning
There are those who decide that opening a joint account or accounts is a substitute for a properly constructed estate plan. After all, they reason, if you have a last will professionally created by one of our estate planning attorneys, you will be choosing an executor. This is going to have to be someone that you trust to take care of things in accordance with your wishes.
What’s stopping you from simply adding the person that you would use as your executor to your bank account or accounts? You then do the same thing you would do with a last will. You let the co-account holder know how you want the assets distributed after you die, and you leave the matter in the hands of this trusted friend or family member.
This logic can make sense on the surface, but if you dig a bit deeper, you see that it is not as simple as it seems. By making someone the co-account holder, these resources become the possession of this individual in the eyes of the law. This can bring a host of unexpected difficulties.
Many seniors rely on Medicaid to pay for long-term care. To qualify, your resources must stay within a modest upper resource limit. Making someone the co-account holder could wind up pushing this individual’s resources above the threshold, and as a result, he or she may not qualify for Medicaid.
There is also the matter of unmanageable debt incurred by the co-account holder. If creditors wanted to attach any monies owned by the co-account holder, they would have every legal right to target your funds.
Any responsible adviser would have to remind you that it is always possible that the co-account holder could abscond with your resources. And short of this, what if the co-account holder was to fall victim to an instance of elder financial abuse? You could wake up one morning and find that your account has been cleaned out and your legacy has fallen by the wayside.
There is no reason to take any risks at all with such a serious matter. You can take the appropriate legal steps to arrange for the eventual transfer of your assets safely. The investment you make in retaining the appropriate legal counsel will be well worth the security and peace of mind that you are afforded in return.
Reserve Your Seat Today!
There are countless different things to take into consideration when you are planning your estate. You should certainly understand all of the facts so that you can make your decisions in a fully informed manner. With this in mind, our estate planning attorneys are holding a series of informative seminars over the coming weeks. They are free to attend, and you can obtain a great deal of useful information if you attend the session that fits into your schedule. To get all the details, click this link.