As with hard drives, our limited shelf life requires that we make the most of each day while also planning for a peaceful transition. Having loved ones struggle with managing unorganized financial affairs with no assistance only prolongs grief and blemishes fond memories.
Why do most of us give more attention to backing up our PCs than we do to our estate plans? This question was explored in a recent Time article, titled "How Writing a Will Is Like Backing Up Your Hard Drive." To make sure our computers work effectively, we conduct updates, check for viruses, and clean up unwanted material. Being unorganized only leads to trouble and added expense. Making our loved ones deal with unorganized financial affairs and estates only creates more stress and adds to the grief.
In one way, if you do not back up your PC's hard drive or do not have an estate plan, you are not alone. However, that really is not good news. Just because a lot of people flunk the final exam does not make the conversation with your parents any easier. So too, in estate planning—being unorganized only makes more work for your family and your estate planning attorney. On top of that there will be more expenses involved.
As noted in the original article, a 2012 survey found that 41% of Baby Boomers and 71% of people age 34 and younger do not have wills. That is truly a failing grade.
Taking the steps necessary to get your estate plan organized is well worth the effort, both to you now and to your loved ones after you pass away. Working with your estate planning attorney to draft your will requires you to designate responsible and trust-worthy people who are able to settle your estate (executors), care for your minor children (guardians), and manage any of the trusts (trustees) you start for the benefit of others. While you are at it, make sure you have an up-to-date list of your financial assets and liabilities. Nowadays, this also includes your online accounts and passwords. Your estate plan should also have a durable power of attorney, durable power of attorney for health care, and a living will.
So start today: Back-up the PC hard drive, check for viruses, and call your estate planning attorney to get organized!
Reference: Time (August 18, 2014) "How Writing a Will Is Like Backing Up Your Hard Drive"
Holden Campbell, LLC - Annapolis Estate Planning Attorneys