Critical Issues to Avoid When Preparing an Estate Plan in South Dakota
Estate planning is a necessity to ensure that one’s loved ones are taken care of if there is a sudden death in the family. A proper trust can ensure that young children have enough resources to survive if their parents are no longer around or to provide for spouses long after their partners have passed away. An estate lawyer can help plan around certain obstacles that may not be obvious until after the testator passes. Below are a few common estate planning issues to consider when preparing your estate:
Draft Your Estate Plan Properly
One of the most significant steps in setting up an estate plan is ensuring that it is set up correctly. Drafting a will or trust is not worth the expense if a court will not recognize its validity. However, the requirements for writing a will or trust are low compared to other legal documents.
A trust is a legal instrument in which another person or other entity holds legal title to property for the benefit of others. The trustor must name a trustee to administrator properties placed in trust for certain beneficiaries. The trustee then administers or distributes the property for the beneficiaries’ use after the trustor passes away.
For a will, most states require that the testator (a person writing a will) is a legal adult, meaning you must be at least 18 years of age and/or legally married. Second, many states require that a will be signed in the presence of one if not two witnesses. Some states permit the use of handwritten or videotaped wills in addition to or in lieu of a witnessed will. Finally, some states require that a will be notarized.
Update Your Estate Plan
Both a gift and the beneficiary must be named in a will or trust for a beneficiary to receive the gift. If a beneficiary isn’t named in a written will, that beneficiary may not receive the gift. Similarly, if a gift no longer exists, the beneficiary may not receive it. For instance, if you give your car to your child, but you sell the car prior to your passing, then your child obviously cannot receive that car. Similarly, estate plans should be updated after a major life event. Marriages, divorces, or the birth of a new child will impact most estate plans and those wills and trusts should be updated accordingly.
Include Your Virtual Assets and Social Media in Your Estate Plan
Digital estate planning has become increasingly important as Americans spend more and more time online. Some individuals may own Bitcoin or have social media accounts that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even if a person doesn’t have a significant internet presence, many banks, retirement accounts, and other financial institutions are easiest to access through an online account.
Digital Property also doesn’t have to be monetarily significant to be valuable. Pictures and videos on social media may still be emotionally important. Digital photographs or social media postings on social media or email may impact how we see a person after they are gone. Executors, trustees, and/or beneficiaries should be able to easily access bank accounts and/or social media accounts alike to successfully manage an estate.
An Estate Plan for Life Prior to Death
A successful estate plan should take into account situations where you are still alive but can no longer make decisions for yourself. One of the biggest setbacks for an estate are underestimated and unpaid medical bills. For example, you may become involved in an automobile accident that could leave you unable to take care of yourself. Estate documents such as an advanced healthcare directive or living will can guide your caregivers and family if you are unable to express your own healthcare wishes upon an incapacitating injury.
Do I Need An Attorney For Estate Planning in South Dakota?
If you are considering establishing an estate plan, you should consult with a skilled estate lawyer in South Dakota. It is important to work with a local attorney in South Dakota so that you receive the most relevant legal advice regarding your estate as most probate laws depend on the state you reside in. A skilled estate lawyer can draft the necessary legal documents and help set up your estate.