If you are proactively creating a plan for what ultimately happens to your assets and other valuables you care about, good for you! Your loved ones will be so thankful to have less to worry about during their time of grief. While you are at it, don’t forget about these matters that experts say are sometimes neglected in estate planning efforts.
None of us can ever predict exactly how our lives or those of our intended beneficiaries will roll along. That’s why experts say it’s important to name alternative beneficiaries “in case the named beneficiary does not outlive you or is unable to claim under the will.” While you’re at it, consider naming a back up personal representative, often referred to as an executor, in case your designated fiduciary is unable to serve in this role when the time comes. As Paul Izzo of Thompson McMullan further explains:
If a will names a beneficiary who is unable to take possession of the property, your assets may pass as though you didn’t have a will at all. This means state law will determine who gets your property, not you. By providing an alternative beneficiary, you can make sure that the property goes where you want it to go. Also, be sure to name a primary Executor and at least one back-up Executor in case your primary is unable to serve for any reason.
Keep in mind too, that although sometimes waived, an estate bond can play an important role in reinforcing the intentions set forth in an estate plan. Essentially, an estate bond protects the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with state law. Sometimes these bonds are referred to as fiduciary, executor or trustee bonds. At Colonial, estate and other bonds are available directly and digitally. The steps to obtaining an estate bond are easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from anywhere—even the law office. Obtain Estate Bond Here.
More and more, our lives are lived in the digital space. In this online world, lie our accounts and the access to them, our contacts and even our cherished photos and videos. We may even have acquired crypto and other digital assets, including artwork, and the experts at JD Supra remind us that it is critical to account for these in our estate plans:
There are some steps you can take to help your family deal with your digital property. You should make a list of all your online accounts, including e-mail, financial accounts, social media accounts, and anywhere else you conduct business online. Include your username and password for each account, as well as access information for your digital devices, including smartphones and computers. And then you need to make sure the agent under your durable power of attorney and the personal representative named in your will have authority to deal with your online accounts by including specific provisions in those documents authorizing such access. Be sure to let your agent and personal representative know where they can find the list.
It is helpful to know that when working with a lawyer on your estate plan, you will designate a “personal representative.” This is the fiduciary who you trust to ultimately manage your affairs. Depending on the location and circumstances, your representative may be referred to specifically as an executor or administrator and if you create a trust, you will name a trustee. Despite the terminology subtleties and regional variations, personal representatives, executors, administrators and trustees share a common legal duty: they are fiduciaries who must avoid self-interest while acting in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries, in accordance with applicable state laws.
Given the significant trust placed in fiduciaries, they are often required to secure bonds guaranteeing their faithful performance. As a leading national bond provider, Colonial Surety helps personal representatives, executors, administrators and trustees in every state quickly and affordably obtain their bonds. The steps to obtaining a bond with Colonial are easy: get a quote online, fill in the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere, anytime.
Spurred by the disruptions the pandemic set in motion, furry friends have become an ever bigger part of our lives. Establishing a pet trust is a way to set aside resources and arrange a care plan for your pet. As attorneys explain: “With a pet trust, the trustee makes payments on a regular basis to your pet’s caregiver and pays for your pet’s needs as they arise. It would also be worthwhile to create a memorandum providing details to the designated caretaker concerning your pet’s special needs, health conditions, habits, and idiosyncrasies. Of course, you should not name anyone as a potential caretaker unless you have first asked if he or she would be willing to serve.”
Services for Estate Planning Attorneys
Colonial’s direct, fully digital, user-friendly I-Bond® system reduces the time and expense typically associated with antiquated bonding processes. In addition to providing bonds directly to the general public, Colonial offers The Partnership Account® for Attorneys . This free business service provides user-friendly client management dashboards, enabling attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. See for yourself today:
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of surety bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.