There was a time when the process of estate planning for most Americans simply consisted of drafting a simple will. However, as assets have become more complex, healthcare has become more focused on personal choice and technology has evolved, a simple will is no longer the only estate planning tool that most Americans need to concern themselves with.
Once individuals reach the age of majority, their parents are no longer automatically empowered with the ability to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf. As a result, every American adult is in need of certain documents related to medical decision making and end-of-life care.
In addition, it is vitally important that individuals address technology-related issues in their wills and other estate planning documents. Without certain instructions, all of your social media accounts, electronic files and intellectual property stored on electronic devices could be lost, raided or taken advantage of in some way or another.
Creative work and communication are increasingly affected by personal electronic technology. When drafting and revising your estate plan, it is important to take these realities into consideration and to seek out your attorney's guidance on how to protect the information you have stored online and on devices.
If you fail to plan for your death in these ways, you may lose valuable information or have it fall into hands that you would rather not touch it. Thinking about death can be difficult and preparing for death in these ways can be unnerving. But the consequences of ignoring the estate planning process can reverberate for years. It is therefore important to face your discomfort and work through your estate planning issues in general and as they relate to healthcare and electronic media.
Source: Daily Finance, "The New Organizational Structure for Estate Planning," Brian Lund, Dec. 2, 2014