digital assets

11 Estate Planning New Year's Resolutions

11 Estate Planning New Year's Resolutions

There’s nothing quite like the new year to make you think of fresh possibilities and new beginnings.

There’s also nothing quite like way too much turkey, wine, and football over the holidays to make you realize that you should maybe consider some lifestyle changes.

You have probably already started on your list of new year’s resolutions for 2019: read more, get a gym membership (and actually use it this time), spend more time with family, etc. And those are great resolutions. “New year, new me” and all that jazz.

But there is one more goal you should add to your list: organize your estate plan.

While most resolutions are about helping your self, an estate plan is about helping your loved ones. To make it easier for you to set your affairs in order, we created this handy list of 11 Estate Planning Resolutions for 2019:

1. Execute a Trust and/or a Will

You, like a majority of Americans, may not have a living trust or a last will and testament. You may not even know what those documents are. Which one is better? Which one is right for you? What are the differences between a will and a trust?

Both a trust and a will control what happens to your estate — your property, your “stuff” — after your death. However, there is one huge difference between the two: a trust avoids probate, while a will does not.

Yes, even if you have a will, your estate must still go through probate after your death.

Remember that there are two main sides to estate planning: (1) What happens to your “stuff” when you die and (2) who takes care of your self when you become incapacitated. You can solve the first part of that equation in 2019 by creating a trust or a will.

Married With Children: Estate Planning for Young Families

Married With Children: Estate Planning for Young Families

When you have a kid, everything else usually takes a back seat. There's often no time for fun things like hobbies or other activities and definitely no time for un-fun things estate planning.

But what would happen to your child if you and your spouse suddenly died or became incapacitated? Who will take care of your child's medical needs and daily care? Who will manage your assets until your child reaches adulthood?

A well-crafted estate plan can address these issues and more, and ensure that your kids are taken care of after you are gone.

Cryptocurrency: The New Frontier of Estate Planning

Cryptocurrency: The New Frontier of Estate Planning

What if millions, or even billions, of dollars in wealth suddenly disappeared? What if some of your assets are lost after your death and your heirs are unable to recover them? With the rising popularity and value of cryptocurrency, these scenarios are now a very real possibility.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a virtual medium of exchange. The "crypto" part of the name comes from the fact that the currency uses cryptography to secure transactions. Think of it like wiring money or trading stocks (all ones and zeros), except that cryptocurrency is not regulated by a central bank or securities commission.

The One Big Thing Your Estate Plan Is Missing

The One Big Thing Your Estate Plan Is Missing

You may have great estate planning documents. You may have discussed them with your family. You may have even inventoried your digital assets and feel that your job is done. But your estate plan may still be missing one BIG thing: a "letter of instruction."

Do your representatives know what to do?

Managing an estate is a tough job. If you died today, would your Successor Trustee or other representatives even know where to start? Where is the key to your safe-deposit box? Where are your car titles? What is the combination to the floor safe? Where is the abstract of title to your home? What are the passwords to your computer and other online accounts?

5 Tips to Create Your Digital Estate Plan

5 Tips to Create Your Digital Estate Plan

You have spent years cultivating memories with your Facebook profile, curating an audience with your Twitter account, and building an incredibly efficient agricultural operation on FarmVille. But what happens to those accounts after your death? We recently wrote about the importance of protecting your digital assets, but what exactly does is involved in creating a digital estate plan?

Tip #1: Make an inventory of your digital assets. 

This is a bit of a catch-22. We usually recommend that our clients keep a list of any accounts, usernames, and passwords so their representatives will know how to access those accounts after your death. (We'll talk about how to keep this information secure in a minute.)

Estate Planning in the Digital Age

Estate Planning in the Digital Age

Who gets your Facebook account when you die? What happens to your Twitter? Your Instagram? Your e-mail account? Your Bitcoin? The Digital Age and the advent of Internet- and cloud-based assets have created a new category of estate planning.

Your Internet accounts are your property, and property stored online that has any value requires the same level of protection you give to other tangible (e.g., houses, cars, stocks) and intangible (e.g., patents, copyrights, goodwill) assets.

You Have More Digital Assets Than You Think

Cutting-edge technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace while estate planning and probate laws struggle to keep up. As a result, some companies responsible for managing the platforms for digital assets have sought to fill the void.