Forgetting about Fido and other estate-planning mistakes

If you are finally getting around to giving some serious thought to estate planning, congratulations on your foresight. Not everyone has it. Before you get together with your attorney, it is a good idea to gather as much information as you can about your assets —  investments, banking information and the like — to make the meeting go more smoothly.

You do not want to leave any critical information out of documents that will be so important to your family after you pass on. Here are six things you should remember to include:

  • Name your executor or trustee: Give this important task some thought. Choose someone who you believe has sound judgment and who can be counted upon to do a good job, not because he is your eldest child or favorite uncle.
  • Select a conservator: If you have minor children, choose a conservator for the money they will inherit in case you pass away unexpectedly.
  • Allow for changes: People get married, divorced, become drug addicts or decide to go on a world tour. In other words, circumstances change, so designating heirs is not always easy. Your estate-planning attorney can offer guidance.
  • Provide for your pets: Remember to include provisions for your furry friends; by law, they are personal property. Name someone who will give Fido or Fluffy a good home. You can even spell out instructions for feeding or special needs.
  • Include your digital assets: You may have considerable digital assets, such as cloud-based accounts and important documents stored online. Think about what should happen to your Facebook or LinkedIn accounts, and remember to pass along important password information.
  • Provide updates: Once you have prepared your will and/or trust documents, do not let them become stagnant. As the lives of those named in your estate-planning documents change, you should be prepared to make updates.

Gather questions along with information

As you start putting information together so that the estate-planning process can begin, questions will likely turn up. The attorney you work with will have the answers and can help you avoid mistakes as you put your affairs in order.


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