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Did you forget to include Fido in your estate plan?

When you think about estate planning, the usual questions come to mind: what happens to your money or property when you pass away, who should be named a guardian for your minor children or what kind of funeral arrangements you prefer. There are some common mistakes you want to avoid, however, such as forgetting to plan for the wellbeing of your pets or the handling of your social media.

Arranging for pet care

If you do not make the proper arrangements, Fido and Fluffy may end up in an animal shelter after you die; too many pets do. If you do not want your animal companions to spend their remaining years in cages or worse yet be euthanized, remember to make provisions in your will. Pets are personal property, so be sure that you state who should take care of them once you are gone. You can also set aside money for this purpose together with instructions as to their feeding, for example, or medical needs.

Avoiding digital distress

Your emails and social media accounts are real assets, and you must designate someone, such as an executor, to manage those assets following your demise. The first thing you can do is to inform your spouse, close family member, business partner or attorney about your various accounts and other digital information; there may be important documents stored on your computer. You also need to decide how accounts like LinkedIn and Facebook should be handled. Find out what sort of policies there are about deleting the accounts of deceased users or for memorializing them.

Accounting for changing life events

You may have been diligent in preparing your will at a relatively early age, but since then many things have probably changed. You may have married for a second time, causing two families to merge. An adult child may have become incapacitated and now requires constant care. You and your second spouse may have become grandparents. Several other life-altering events may have occurred in the decades since you created your will.

Updating your estate plan

Do not let your plan lapse. There is no time like the present to take a look at the document you created decades ago. Remember that because your circumstances have changed, disagreements could erupt between family members if you do not update your will - and perhaps the time has come to consider creating a trust.

Once you are assured that nothing has been overlooked, including the matter of a caretaker for Fido, you will enjoy peace of mind. An attorney experienced in estate planning can be a great help in making sure your wishes are recorded properly.

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