If you’ve been pondering how best to prepare for the future, you may have numerous concerns running through your mind. Some of those concerns and questions may include how to protect and provide for your children in the event of illness or death. What will happen to your home or other assets if you die? What will happen if you become hospitalized and incapacitated and are unable to make your own health decisions, or pay your monthly mortgage payment?
You may be thinking of your bank accounts, real estate, cars, business, the treasured diamond ring from your grandmother, your beloved pet, or the 80-year-old chipped and faded Christmas cookie plate that for generations has been passed down from one family member to the next. Your next question should be: Do you currently have a legal document that states to whom you will pass these assets should you die suddenly or become incapacitated due to an ongoing illness or health emergency?
For many, the fear of such dire circumstances - and consequently our mortality, is enough to make us want to block out the entire thought process. Unfortunately, not having a plan can create havoc for the loved ones who are left scrambling for answers on how best to handle your health decisions, dependent children, pets, and financial affairs. Often, the courts will be summoned to determine the fate of your Estate.
For those who have made the wise decision to create an Estate Plan, Non-Financial Assets which are oftentimes overlooked (e.g. that chipped and faded cookie plate) should always be a consideration. Although personal “treasures” may be deemed less valuable on a monetary scale, our Non-Financial Assets are as important as our financial assets, if not more so. Many conflicts can arise when grieving family members are left to decide who gets the “infamous cookie plate” or the family photo album, handmade quilt, or special holiday ornaments.
What makes your Non-Financial Assets so important is that nothing can take their place if lost or forgotten. Financial assets can always be replaced and often are replaced as newer versions are created. Financial assets, such as cars, houses, and boats are always being upgraded, but non-financial assets that are significant only to your family, cannot be.
Non-Financial Assets you will want to include within your personal Estate Plan will vary, as you and your family will have its own unique set of Non-Financial Assets that are meaningful to all of you. However, Trust & Will, a leader in online Estate Planning services, wants to help you begin to think about what Non-Financial Assets you should include within your Estate Plan so that nothing is unintentionally forgotten.
Non-Financial Assets and Their Significance
There are often more Non-Financial Assets to be accounted for than one might initially imagine. Below are some you may want to include in your Estate Plan that you may not even realize are assets for you.
Often overlooked but highly significant Non-Financial Assets are your digital assets. With so much information being stored online today, your digital assets left behind can become a Digital Legacy for you in your absence. A Digital Legacy is any part of your personal identity or character that lives online. A list of items that can contribute to your Digital Legacy includes but is not limited to:
Social media accounts
Dating app profiles
Your digital assets are important to consider in your Estate Plan because they affect the Digital Legacy you leave behind. For example, you may not feel comfortable with your social media accounts living on after your death, and you may want them shut down. In this instance, it will be important to have detailed written directions for how your social media accounts are handled after your death. Otherwise, they may be left online, leaving a Digital Legacy for you that you may not be comfortable with.
Your digital assets not only affect your Digital Legacy but also your family. Your digital photos, videos, and writings from your time on this earth are invaluable to your family members, as they will be the strongest connection to you that you leave behind. You may have digital family photos in your possession that were passed down to you from parents or grandparents since passed that will not want to be lost or forgotten. With these items being so significant, it will be important to make them a part of your Estate Plan, guaranteeing that your family will have access to these images in your absence.
It is almost inevitable that your family has developed their own traditions over the years that are unique only to you. To others, these traditions may not hold any value, but to your loved ones, they are an essential and memorable part of family gatherings and holidays. These traditions may have been passed down for generations, or a more recent occurrence created by you, but regardless of when they were created, you will not want them forgotten.
Your family traditions may include a secret family recipe that only you know but is an essential part of your holiday dinner your family cannot imagine going without. You may have kept it a secret all these years because half of the fun is being able to look forward to that meaningful part of your holiday celebration you bring to the table. However, you will want to make sure to include this secret family recipe in your Estate Plan so that the tradition can be passed along to future generations.
In your life, you have come to believe and value certain things. Your time on this earth has shaped you into the person that you are today and created morals and values that you have stood by throughout the years. You almost certainly have tried to instill these values and the knowledge you have acquired throughout your experiences onto your children and grandchildren. However, you may fear that there are certain things your family may forget. Or perhaps you worry about your morals and beliefs being forgotten or muddled in the years after you pass. In this instance, creating a personal legacy statement is essential.
A Personal Legacy Statement is a written statement you can include in your Estate Plan that asserts your beliefs, values, and morals you have tried to live your life by over the years. By including a personal legacy statement in your Estate Plan, you are guaranteeing that your personal beliefs will not be forgotten by those you love. It may even inspire your loved ones to live by the same values.
Your Non-Financial Assets are an essential part of your legacy, and therefore they are not something you will want to leave out of your Estate Plan. Creating your Estate Plan can often feel like a time-consuming and confusing process. That is why we at Trust & Will created online services to help with your planning, including online Trust-Based online Estate Planning, Will planning, and Guardianship documents. Visit our website today to learn more!