The SECURE Act: How it Affects Estate Planning and What to Do

With the introduction of the Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act in effect as of January 1, 2020, new and big changes have been made that affect one large aspect of retirement accounts: the payout process for beneficiaries. Previously, those who inherited someone’s retirement account were able to spread withdrawals from the account over the course of their lifetime. However, under the SECURE Act, beneficiaries are now required to withdraw all funds from an account within a 10 year period.

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3 Estate Planning Resolutions for the New Year

With another year behind you, it is a great time to review your estate plan. If you do not have an estate plan, it’s a great time to start one. Here are three estate planning resolutions you should consider for 2019:

Estate Planning Resolution #1: Have the Talk

There is no easy time to bring up estate planning with your partner or children. Estate planning gets a bad reputation for being associated with death, however it does not need to be a dark subject. There is much more to estate planning than what happens to your assets after you pass away. Your estate plan could include important information about child custody, medical decisions in the event of incapacitation or the future of your home or business.

You could bring it up this way: an estate plan protects your family and intentions. Discussing an estate plan as a family gives everyone a chance to speak about their intentions and understand their role, so no one is caught off-guard in the event of death or an emergency situation.

If you die without an estate plan, then California’s intestate succession laws will govern the division of your property. Any specific wishes you may have had for your family will not legally mean anything and your estate will become a public matter.

Estate Planning Resolution #2: Review Life Events

Did anything big happen in your life during 2018? Reviewing your existing estate plan could give you an idea of anything or anyone you may have left out. In some cases, you may want to amend part of your estate plan. A few examples of events to consider include:

  • Marriage
  • Separation or divorce
  • Birth of a child
  • Death of a loved one
  • Property acquisition or sale

Again, keeping your estate plan updated protects your family and wishes.

Estate Planning Resolution #3: Organize Your Passwords

Technology has become an institution within our everyday lives. Any pictures you save online, online bank accounts, social media profiles or owned web domains are your digital assets. In this day and age, they should have a spot in your estate plan. In the event of death or incapacitation, your loved ones could have a difficult time obtaining your digital information without legal permission and instruction. Start getting organized by writing down your passwords to:

  • Electronic devices
  • E-mail accounts
  • Social network accounts
  • Website accounts
  • Online bank accounts
  • Online bill-payment accounts

Need a Ventura County Estate Planning Attorney?

Our California estate planning attorneys help clients in Oxnard and the surrounding areas of Ventura County with a complete range of trust and estate services. We could help you figure out the best course of action for your estate and create a legally valid plan under California law. Call Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman, APC today at (805) 981-8555 or contact us online for more information.

How to Incorporate Your Digital Life into Your Estate Plans

In this modern age, our digital life has become almost as important as our normal everyday lives. Our online accounts, emails, social media profiles and digital subscriptions are all a part of our daily routines, so it’s natural to think about what will happen to them when you pass away. An estate planning attorney can help you navigate through the complicated online user agreements and laws that may restrict how others can be in control of your account through your estate plans.

Early last year, California passed the Revised Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which allows trustees and executors to obtain disclosure of someone’s digital assets after the primary user’s death under specific conditions. Before this law, it was very difficult for executors and trustees to obtain access to digital accounts without a court order.

This new law allows for a requirement of prior consent before disclosing this important information. It also made it easier for executors and trustees to prove that the decedent had consented to the disclosure, which allowed them to have access to the digital information.

What’s Included in My Digital Life?

Your digital life can include:

  • Email accounts
  • Social network profiles
  • Blogging sites
  • Photo-sharing sites
  • Shopping accounts
  • Banking and bill-payment accounts

How Can I Ensure My Digital Accounts Are Protected Now?

  1. Take inventory of all the accounts and websites listed above. For each account, make sure you state the login and password information in your estate plans, as well as any answers to “secret” questions.
  2. Write down where you have stored this information and the master password needed to gain access to it. Place this information in a safety deposit box or with your estate planning attorney.
  3. Consider drafting and signing a statement that authorizes the companies that hold your digital information to disclose that information to your executor or another representative of your estate. You can draft this with your estate planning attorney as well.
  4. Update your will with pertinent information related to your digital assets.

If you have any more questions about what should belong in your estate plans, contact an estate planning attorney at Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman, APC today.