Some types of assets require special handling or attention in estate planning. Estate planning goes beyond simply providing instructions for straight forward items. Understanding the complexities of some assets and taking certain steps may be required to accomplish your estate planning goals. Here are a few examples of things that need special handling in estate planning.
1 – Jointly Held Real Estate
There are different forms of real estate ownership in Massachusetts. For instance, owning a home as “joint tenants” distributes your share of a property to the remaining owners upon your death. In the alternative, owning as “tenants in common” allows your share to pass down to your beneficiaries or heirs through the Probate process and your Last Will & Testament. As part of our estate planning services, we take a close look at real estate that you own and provide guidance on changes that may be needed to accomplish your goals. This may involve changing the type of ownership noted in deeds for real property.
2 – Assets with Designated Beneficiaries
Some assets have direct beneficiaries on the account. When that is the case, those assets may bypass any will or other estate plan document you have in place and not follow your wishes. The most common assets with beneficiary designations are life insurance and retirement accounts (IRA’s, 401(k) plans, etc). One of your many decisions is whether to list a beneficiary directly on those policies or to pursue other options. Our team can discuss the options with you, outlining the pros and cons and how it fits into your overall plan. Accounts with direct beneficiaries are one of the most important things that need special handling in estate planning.
3 – Digital/Virtual Assets
Many of our clients wish to include digital/virtual assets in their estate plans. These can be tricky. Many companies have user agreements that prevent them from granting access to anyone other than the account owner. Products with license agreements may be non-transferrable. Transferring such assets require advanced planning, such as inclusion of passwords and other information in an estate plan.
4 – Funeral Arrangements
In movies, we often see attorneys meeting with family members to read a will,… and that will including instructions for funeral and burial arrangements. The reality is, funerals often take place very quickly, long before wills are reviewed or estates settled. Therefore, funeral wishes are another thing that requires special planning. We often instruct our clients to have conversations with family members ahead of time and/or to detail specific wishes in a separate document.
Other Things That Need Special Handling in Estate Planning
These are just examples of a few things that need special handling in estate planning. You may assume that some things cannot be included in your estate plan, but in reality, they may simply need special attention. As Massachusetts estate planning attorneys, we can provide guidance based on local and federal laws while taking into account any third party rules that may also apply to your assets. Schedule a consultation with our team to discuss your unique circumstances and assets.