The main purpose of an estate plan is to provide a comprehensive set of directions to your personal representative and the courts as to how your assets should be treated and your affairs are settled following your death. The more comprehensive your estate plan is, the less courts and your heirs and beneficiaries are left to figure out on their own by attempting to use probate laws and common sense to figure out your intentions.
Even if you think your estate plan is foolproof and addresses every contingency, it may not be complete if it does not address:
Successor representatives: Does your estate plan specify who is to serve as the representative of your estate in the event your primary choice either passes before you die, is declared mentally incompetent, or otherwise elects not to serve? If your estate plan does not name a successor representative, then it will be left to the court to choose a representative for you – one you may or may not have approved of had you been alive.
Guardians for your children: If you have children, your estate planning documents should specify not only who will care for your children in the event you and the children’s other parent pass but also who is able to hold and manage any inheritance your children receive. Not only should your estate plan name a guardian, but it should also name one or more successor guardians in the event your first choice is unable to serve in that capacity for whatever reason.
Care for your pets: For some individuals, cats, dogs, and other pets are like “family,” yet their estate plans do not provide directions as to who is to provide continuing care for their animals and what assets are to be used to care for the animals.
Access to your online accounts: Wrapping up your affairs may require that your personal representative deactivate social media accounts and access other investment or savings accounts that are through online financial institutions. Your estate plan should disclose your passwords for these accounts, or at least indicate where the passwords can be found.
Disposition of your residual estate: Finally, be certain that your estate plan directs what is to happen with your “residual estate” – the property and assets that are left over after your representative has paid your debts, settled with your creditors, and disposed of the property specifically described in your estate plan.
Call a North Dakota Estate Planning Lawyer Today
The North Dakota estate planning attorneys at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss can help ensure your estate plan is comprehensive and clear so that your personal representative and the court need not guess at your intentions or resort to intestacy laws to administer your affairs. Speak with the legal team at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss today by calling (701) 235-8000 or (877) 235-8002.