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Be sure to include digital life in estate planning documents

Before the advent of technology, most people could handle their final wishes through wills and trusts. However, since so much of life is handled through online accounts, estate planning may need to take this into consideration. Arizona residents who need to establish their own plans may wish to ensure these digital assets are included when drafting their plans.

It may have once been adequate to simply provide a trusted individual with passwords to log into email and other accounts, and either close them out or ensure that they are managed. However, without proper authorization, this person could be accused of hacking, which could block all access to the affected accounts. There is now a legal remedy to this problem through the use of a form referred to as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), which allows the naming of an individual who can legally access accounts by way of a will, trust or power of attorney. Some sites have made provisions for a legacy access, provided the owner has made this provision.

When your estate plan includes a business partnership

Sole practitioners and those who share legal or medical practices with others have more complex estate planning concerns than many other Tucson residents. As you approach your retirement years, you may be faced with several options regarding your business practice.

Some of our clients decide to sell their interest in their medical or legal practice as they approach retirement. Others prefer to retain an ownership interest and perhaps maintain a limited practice even in retirement. But one thing is certain — decisions need to be made regarding the future of your practice once you have passed on.

Estate planning may be vital tool for single-parent families

Parents work hard to provide for the needs of their children. Part of that provision includes estate planning, which may be especially important for single-parent families. Arizona residents who are concerned about how their children would fare if they died unexpectedly may wish to establish a trust.

Families that are headed by two parents may have an advantage in that, if anything happens to one of them, their children will still have a parent to provide for them and guide them into adulthood. Single parents may not have another parent as back-up in the event of their untimely demise. It is in these scenarios when a trust becomes invaluable. Along with the establishment of this planning tool comes the vital decisions of selecting the most appropriate individual to oversee the trust and the welfare of children.

Don't avoid estate planning based on these common fallacies

Few people like to think about death, especially their own. But those that do may find some comfort in the knowledge that they have protected loved ones through estate planning. Unfortunately, many Arizona residents mistakenly believe that having a plan in place is not necessary.

There are several common misconceptions about estate planning. Some worry that drafting a will hastens death. Of course, everyone dies, though making a will does not necessarily mean one has reached the end of the line. However, not having a will means that the state will decide how to divide one's property after death, and that may or may not be in accordance with the individual's wishes. Another common reason for not having an estate plan is lacking significant assets, but a will can also specify a guardian for minor children and what one wishes as far as final arrangements.

Estate planning for blended families takes finesse

Today's families take many different forms. Many families are comprised of stepparents, biological children and children from previous marriages. When it comes to estate planning for these situations, Arizona residents may need to approach the task with careful consideration.

While it is hoped that, when one dies, the surviving partner will ensure that both step and biological children will be provided for in the manner desired, life often plays out differently than imagined. In cases of blended families, things are seldom as picture-perfect as portrayed in television shows. Simply having a will in place will not ensure that a spouse won't attempt to disinherit a deceased spouse's children. However, a trust may be able to provide for all of one's heirs.

Pet trusts are becoming more commonplace

Americans have a love affair with their pets. In many homes, these animals have taken on the role of cherished children and are cared for in a loving and even doting manner. Arizona pet owners who are concerned about their companions' future well-being may consider the benefits of setting up trusts for their future care.

Traditionally, only celebrities or those with significant wealth took the time to ensure that their pets would be cared for after their owners' passing. These days, more and more pet owners are establishing pet care trusts as a common part of estate planning. Setting up these trusts can provide peace of mind that a beloved pet will continue to receive the care to which the family companion has become accustomed. Through clear instructions to a chosen trustee, owners will ensure that their plans provide for adequate funding of a trust that will be used to provide for appropriate care of these pets, including provisions for where the pet will reside.

When life changes significantly, it is time to update your will

Creating a will is an important part of making sure that your affairs are in order when the time comes, and if you have a will in place then you already enjoy at least some of the protections it provides.

However, a will cannot do its best work protecting you, your loved ones or your estate if it falls out of date. Many life events may impact your will, and it is always wise to amend your will as you experience major changes.

Estate planning is not the time to engage in DIY

The internet is full of websites that purport to teach a viewer how do almost any task.  While many of them can be helpful, there are some topics that do not lend themselves well to a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. Though it may be tempting to think about carrying out estate planning in this fashion, Arizona residents may find that such an approach will cost more in the end.

There are several reasons why estate planning should not be done through blank forms and internet how-tos. The first reason is that even the most simple estate does not lend itself well to this approach. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all, as even a straightforward plan requires a tailored approach to ensure that all instructions are clear and that loved ones are provided for in the manner desired. Some may believe that a DIY estate plan can reduce the cost. However, during the planning phase, a misused legal term or other mistake can wind up costing much more to correct.

Why singles need to engage in estate planning

Living the life of a single person may be a fantasy for married parents. While those with children have obvious reasons for tackling estate planning, single people benefit from it as well, maybe even more in some circumstances. Arizona singles may wonder why they should consider this an important task.

Two important planning documents for anyone are a power of attorney and an health care directive with proxy. Singles may find themselves in a vulnerable position if they were to suffer an incapacitating illness or injury. Without trusted individuals selected to handle financial and health care decisions, a court may have to choose an individual to make these vital decisions. 

There are ways to effectively manage finances after gray divorce

The divorce rate for those over the age of 50 has doubled over the past 30 years. Though there are reasons for this increase, it is believed that those who have been remarried are more likely to seek a second divorce. Arizona residents who are facing a "gray" divorce may worry about how to plan for their retirement.

Though it may be more difficult, it is possible to survive financially intact after a gray divorce. One of the first steps to remain financially solvent is to reassess the monthly budget. One is encouraged to analyze the current marital standard of living and then work out a new budget based on the assets one will have after the divorce. It is likely that expenses will need to be reduced and the income may need to be supplemented. One should take into account the change in tax status as well as a possible change in Social Security benefits.

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