A comprehensive estate plan can include several documents and countless instructions. Individuals will attempt to clearly dictate who gets what while preventing unnecessary emotional disputes between surviving loved ones. Unfortunately, when detailing numerous contingencies, it is easy to miss a few simple elements when creating an estate plan.
- Travel expenses: It is not uncommon for heirs to live all around the world. Whether they are located thousands of miles away at the corners of the United States or they have moved abroad, there should be clear language in the plan that the estate will cover travel expenses for these individuals.
- Shipping costs: When writing a will, great care is taken to ensure valuable, sentimental or cherished property is bequeathed to the right loved ones. Unfortunately, not many people take the thinking one step further and consider how these assets will get moved around the world. Take the simple example of a vehicle left to a nephew who helped restore it. If this nephew now lives several states away or across the ocean, the will should make it clear that the estate will absorb the shipping costs rather than saddling the heir with these expenses.
- Digital assets: While much care is often given to the distribution of physical assets such as the home, vehicles or a prized book collection, more and more assets now exist in an online environment. Digital assets can include online shopper rewards (cash back bonuses or airline miles), entertainment collections (books, music, movies or video games) or websites (online storefronts, social networking sites or blogs). These digital assets must be addressed in the estate plan.
Developing a comprehensive estate plan can be a grueling exercise. In crafting wills, trusts and powers of attorney, many individuals go through an emotional rollercoaster as they confront their own mortality and make end-of-life decisions. Fortunately, with the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney, the process can move swiftly and efficiently.