Beckett Law - January 2019

The 3 Most-Commonly Missed Aspects of An Estate Plan

A GUIDE TO DOWNSIZING

What to Keep, Gift, Donate, and Throw Out

Estate is a six-letter word that is often treated like a four-letter one. Setting up a strategy for the time following your death probably wasn’t a topic over holiday dinner tables because, let’s face it, most people don’t want to discuss the matter. But being too afraid to have one awkward conversation will only make it more difficult for your loved ones in the long-run. Estate plans are crucial for maintaining the livelihood of your dependents. If you haven’t set up a clear line of succession for your assets, your family could be forced into probate court, where they’ll have to wade through the muck and mire of mediation. It’s important to make sure every distinguishable piece of property has a home, including the following three. On the surface, passwords, streaming accounts, social media, and raw digital data don’t sound like they would be important after you’re gone. But while the world establishes digital platforms for everything — tax returns, banking, family pictures, and more — it’s increasingly necessary for these assets to be involved in your estate plan. Designating a beneficiary for all your digital data will protect your privacy and ensure these valuables go precisely where they should. The one thing people want to discuss less than their estate plan is their relationships, especially ones that could be viewed as taboo within the framework of modern society. Court cases around the country frequently pop up involving a mistress or lover who sues a widow or widower for compensation. Connecticut doesn’t recognize common-law marriages, but that doesn’t mean beneficiaries are exempt from lawsuits. Disclosing this relationship information will help protect your assets and ensure they go exactly where you intended. As sad as it sounds, many families forget to include their furry companions when it comes time to create their estate plan. These pets will have a challenging and uncertain road ahead unless you set a detailed plan in place for their next home after you pass. If you love your pet, don’t condemn them to live out the rest of their days in a shelter. Putting them in your will is a simple solution and the best way to make sure they’re well taken care of. Pets Digital Assets Undisclosed Relationships

Many homeowners reach a point in their lives when they’re ready to move from the house they raised their families in to something smaller and more manageable. While finding the right place can be a challenge, the hardest part of downsizing is often sorting through a lifetime’s worth of possessions. This process, called contents downsizing, is much easier when you follow this four-step system. Start With the Junk Beginning your downsizing with the hardest items will only lead to frustration and inaction. Instead, start by tackling areas of the house that are full of documents, knickknacks, and boxes you haven’t touched in years. These will be the easiest to part with and will put you in the right downsizing mindset. Donate Unwanted Items The next category contains items that are no longer valuable to you or your family but may be useful to others. These items can be donated to one of many worthy organizations, such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or St. Vincent de Paul. Donations are a way to give back to the less fortunate instead of simply giving or throwing things away. Give Gifts to Loved Ones If you have children, they will undoubtedly want to keep a few cherished mementos and precious possessions. Deciding who will keep what can be a sensitive subject, so you’ll need to devise an equitable way to divvy up the goods. Some families engage in the process collaboratively, but there should always be some communication before anything is thrown out. Your kids may value certain items more than you ever realized. If you suspect a certain heirloom could be a source of contention, it’s best to hold on to it and make it part of your estate plan. Only Keep the Essentials After completing the first three steps, you should be left with only those items you actually use and those that have the most sentimental value to you. These are the objects worth bringing to your new home. Bonus Tip: Color Code Each Category Odds are that you’ll find junk and valuables stored right next to each other. If you don’t have time to physically separate them at the moment, use different colored Post-it notes to keep everything organized when it comes time to move.

Is your estate plan up-to-date? Give us a call, and we’ll set a plan in motion for these three assets and all your others. Let’s start today.

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