Estate Planning Lawyer

Wills Are “Living” Estate Documents - My willIf you don’t yet have a properly executed, legally-enforceable will in place, know that you’re not alone. Widespread estimates indicate that only one out of every three adults in America has an estate plan in place. Therefore, if you’re starting to take steps to craft an estate plan, you’re well ahead of the curve.

A will is the element of a comprehensive estate plan with which most Americans tend to be most familiar. Unlike advance healthcare directives, power of attorney designations, and guardianship designations, wills are almost exclusively concerned with the management of someone’s assets – including sentimental property, valuable tangible property, financial and real property assets, intellectual property, and digital assets – in the event of their death.

Why Create a Will?

As an experienced Des Moines estate planning lawyer – including those who practice at the Law Group of Iowa – can confirm, if you die without a will or revocable living trust in place, it won’t be you who decides how your assets are distributed after your gone. This decision won’t even be left up to your loved ones. The decision will be made by the state. Most people don’t like the state governing their property while they’re alive… even fewer can stomach the idea of the state controlling the distribution of property when they’re gone. To avoid this fate, work with an experienced attorney to craft a legally-enforceable will.

Why Avoid DIY Approaches?

In recent years, more and more online platforms have begun offering DIY will create forms and other estate planning resources. It’s generally not a great idea to utilize these tools unless you’ve been advised by an attorney that they are structured in ways that meet the legal criteria set by the state and will be treated as legally-enforceable once they’re executed. The stakes associated with estate planning are simply too high to risk having your will rejected by the court once you’re gone and can do nothing to fight this decision. Work with an attorney to get your will right “the first time.”

Managing Your Digital Assets

If you’re like most Americans, you access a number of login-required accounts on a regular basis. From social media to banking, much of your interaction with the world likely occurs via accounts that require a login. Have you ever stopped to think about how these accounts would be accessed and managed – and by whom? – after you’ve passed away or been incapacitated due to injury or illness?

When many people stop to think about this reality, they’re startled by just how consequential the digital estate planning aspect of drafting a will can be. They don’t, for example, want to leave their surviving spouse, kids, or loved ones with the burden of unraveling which accounts need to be closed, which ones should be maintained, which ones contain assets that will need to be transferred, etc. Also, there may be some information in some of these accounts they’d rather keep private. By planning ahead,  you can determine how your online footprint will be managed.