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Let's face it, estate planning is not exactly exciting or uplifting. Pondering what will happen after you die can feel pretty morbid. But here's something we all know: dying with a will in place is better than dying without, for both your family and your assets.
So how do you get past all the unpleasantness and get yourself a plan? By answering the hard questions. Here are five of the toughest estate planning questions and why you need to answer them anyway:
1. Who Will Raise Your Children If You Die?
It's one of the main reasons to have a will in the first place. Of course you don't want to think of dying before your children are grown, but making sure they're taken care of after you're gone is a parent's paramount concern. A will allows you to designate who will have custody of your minor children (which can be as important as designating who will not).
2. Could There Be More Children?
Both men and women are freezing their genetic material as part of the fertility process. So before your heirs become embroiled in an embryo custody battle, make sure you designate what should happen to your sperm, eggs, or fertilized embryos before you pass away.
3. How and When Do You Want to Die?
Beyond the philosophical aspects of this question lie practical realities that your loved ones may face, should you become incapacitated. That's why delineating end-of-life scenarios in a living will or durable power of attorney is essential. You can remove the decision-making burden from your family and ensure your final wishes are granted.
4. Who Shuts Off Your Social Media? (And How?)
Will your Facebook feed shutdown automatically? Can your cousin hijack your Twitter account? With so many social media apps (and usernames and passwords), the thought of them updating after your death can be frightening. That's why creating a trust to manage your websites and social media accounts can be so crucial.
5. Have You Thought of Everyone?
You might think ignoring an unpopular or inconvenient descendant is the best policy. But when it comes to your estate, failing to disclose all of the "objects of your bounty" could lead to problems down the road, if he or she decides to show up and make a claim on your assets. The same is true for any long companionship you might've kept secret.
The key to creating a good estate plan is to tackle the tough questions and answer them honestly. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to put together the documents you need to make sure your life's goals are honored after you're gone.