Think You Have Nothing Worth Protecting with an Estate Plan? Think Again.

lonelycat.jpgWhen people think about estate planning, they typically think about the plans that protect properties, investments, and inheritances for children.

While these are all certainly important to address, there are numerous other non-financial assets that are worthy of protection in your estate plan.

For example:

  1. Pets: You may not have children, but you could have a wrinkled hairless cat (or some other kind of pet) that you treat like your child. If you pass away or become incapacitated, your pet will need someone else to care for him or her, and you probably don’t want to chance it to the shelters. With an estate plan, you can select someone you trust to take custody of your pet. You can also identify any financial resources that should follow your pet to its new caregiver and provide for his or her care.
  2. Medical Care: If you are incapacitated and cannot express yourself, you will need others to make medical decisions on your behalf. In many cases, these won’t be easy decisions for your loved ones to make, unless they have direction from you. By appointing a person to make these decisions and documenting any specific wishes you have, you can make things much easier for your loved ones.
  3. Financial Control: If you become incapacitated, you will also need someone to handle your finances. This can include paying a mortgage and utilities, managing bills that you might have on auto-payment and determining how to pay your medical expenses. Granting power of attorney to someone who can handle these responsibilities can minimize costly loose ends.
  4. Digital Life: Shutting down certain accounts, preserving photo files, addressing your library of movies and music, and searching for pertinent information in your emails are all things that may need to happen after a person’s passing. However, these systems are generally built to keep people out and keep information secure. As such, you will need to give permission and login information to someone you trust to handle your digital presence. You can do this in an estate plan.

These non-financial assets may not have much financial value, but they still warrant protection with an estate plan. Anyone with questions or concerns about these or other assets can discuss their specific situation with an experienced attorney.