Do you have a will? Is it up to date? When is the last time you looked at it? Where is it located? Drawing up a will can be one of those things we might consider to be “once and done”, but the fact is that it is a living document, and should occasionally be revised to reflect changes in your own circumstances, and the world we live in.
It’s Make a Will Month, so no better time to remind ourselves that we want to make things as easy as possible for those responsible for executing our estates. As grandparents, we may have new considerations, so it might be worth your while to pull that document out, or up, and check for these three key items we may have missed.
1) Guardianship and Funding for your Pet(s)
We all heard about Queen Elizabeth’s corgis and where they would end up when she passed, and it is one thing that is often overlooked. Pets need to be assigned an agreed upon guardian, in addition to securing that reasonable funds are available for the care of the life of that pet. Ensure the guardian is aware of the financial and any physical challenges associated with your pet, so that they can accommodate them into their way of life. (FYI, the Queen’s corgis ended up going to Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, so plan carefully.)
2) Digital Assets
If you have a social media account (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, etc.), if you email, participate as a content creator, or run a small business online, you own digital assets. This applies even if you are just a “lurker” on these social media accounts. In addition, what apps are you signed in to? Record a list of your digital assets, the associated user names and passwords, and ensure that your Digital Executor is aware of that list’s location. Your Digital Executor should have full access to your online accounts and either be responsible for shutting everything down, or managing it after your death (hosting, etc., which may come with costs). You will want to make sure your Digital Executor is comfortable online; perhaps think about assigning an adult grandchild.
3) Keeping Beneficiaries Updated
If it has been a while since you wrote your will, the circumstances of people listed in your will may have changed – death, divorce, marriage, financial situation, etc. Your own personal circumstances (divorce, new grandkids, marriage, step children, etc.) may have also changed.
You may be guardians of your grandchildren, and as such, will need to re-assign guardianship should something happen to you where you are unable to fulfill that role. Remember also when you are making revisions in your will, do not forget to update your life insurance policies also to ensure that the appropriate parties are receiving any financial benefits.
One last note: If you are expecting to be named guardian for your grandchildren in your children’s wills, you should discuss this with them, to ensure that you are both comfortable that this is a role you are prepared to take on financially, and physically.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way…to make life easier for those you leave behind.