It’s said that the only thing certain in life are death and taxes. With death comes the unpleasant task of having to handle the estate of the one who died. But the nature of the estate changes too. For example, a decade ago, no one had ever heard the term “digital assets” but those, which consist of social media and Internet passwords, are now often an integral part of the estate. We provided information on this topic when the legislature passed the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.

Some changes are those that happen in your personal life. Even if you have a will or have named beneficiaries of life insurance and retirement plans, life events such as marriage, divorce, and births can create issues. Most people assume that, regardless of whether or not they have a will, or who is named as beneficiary on an insurance policy, their spouse and/or their children will inherit their estate and insurance proceeds. Not necessarily.

Each state, including Minnesota, has its own order of inheritance that will happen by law if you don’t have a valid legal document that gives those directions. If you named an ex-spouse as beneficiary of a life insurance policy and have since remarried and didn’t change it, your former spouse will likely get that money, not your surviving spouse.

Chances are, you didn’t know at least one of the facts pointed out above. That is a good reason to contact an estate planning attorney in Minnesota who keeps up with the changes in the law and in society that affect your estate. Make sure that you are certain that your wishes are known and followed.

Source: Consumer Reports, “How to create a bulletproof estate plan,” Nov. 2013