In life as in computing, a little planning now prevents a lot of pain down the road. Goodbyes are never easy, particularly if the relationship was a cherished one. Such was the case for me and my beloved hard drive. Its capacity for capturing great conversations, thoughts, and images felt irreplaceable. My heart sank as the computer technician conducted its last rites. But thanks to technological advances, a mirror image of my hard drive’s legacy resided only a download away. The online backup reduced my anxiety and helped me resume my daily activities. Preparing for the inevitable allowed me and my hard drive to appreciate our time together and live life with no residual regrets.
A recent Time article, titled "How Writing a Will Is Like Backing Up Your Hard Drive," asks why most of us do not devote the same energy to our estate planning as we do to our PCs. To make sure our computers work effectively, we conduct updates, check for viruses, and clean up unwanted material. Being unorganized only leads to trouble and added expense. Making our loved ones deal with unorganized financial affairs and estates only creates more stress and adds to the grief.
In one way, if you do not back up your PC's hard drive or do not have an estate plan, you are not alone. However, that really is not good news. Just because a lot of people flunk the final exam does not make the conversation with your parents any easier. So too, in estate planning—being unorganized only makes more work for your family and your estate planning attorney. On top of that there will be more expenses involved.
As noted in the original article, a 2012 survey found that 41% of Baby Boomers and 71% of people age 34 and younger do not have wills. That is truly a failing grade.
Taking the steps necessary to get your estate plan organized is well worth the effort, both to you now and to your loved ones after you pass away. Working with your estate planning attorney to draft your will requires you to designate responsible and trust-worthy people who are able to settle your estate (executors), care for your minor children (guardians), and manage any of the trusts (trustees) you start for the benefit of others. While you are at it, make sure you have an up-to-date list of your financial assets and liabilities. Nowadays, this also includes your online accounts and passwords. Your estate plan should also have a durable power of attorney, durable power of attorney for health care, and a living will. So start today: Back-up the PC hard drive, check for viruses, and call your estate planning attorney to get organized!
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.
Reference: Time (August 18, 2014) "How Writing a Will Is Like Backing Up Your Hard Drive"