4 Reasons You Should Include a Recorded Video with Your Estate Plan

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Lauren Pitman

Author, Attorney

When you’ve gone through the work of putting together an estate plan, the next most important thing is to make sure it actually works exactly the way you intended.

One of the ways you can create an added protection is by creating a video to supplement your will or trust. Here are four reasons you might include a video with your estate plan.

If your estate plan could be contested or cause friction, video documentation of your wishes is a great way to supplement what you have legally put in writing.

I have seen too often the unpredictable ways that families behave in the wake of the death of a loved one. In grief, the little things become big things. Even if you have a loving, stable family relationship, there could be reasons an estate plan is contested.

In order to avoid these kinds of disputes, you need to make your wishes perfectly clear. Having a will or a trust is vital, but when you record your wishes in your own voice, on video, you might convince your heirs you made these decisions for a good reason. 

This is especially true if: 

  • you have purposefully excluded someone from your plan
  • you expect friction between any of your heirs
  • you have made decisions in your plan that aren’t consistent with your state’s laws

If you have minor children, your video is an opportunity to speak to them, and to their guardians, directly.

It’s one of the most difficult scenarios to imagine, yet if the worst happened, you’d want your child to know that you didn’t just leave important decisions up to the court, to a judge who doesn’t know you or your kids.

Instead, you’d want them to know, in your own words, why you chose a specific person to act in your place. Through a video recording, you have the opportunity to help your child’s guardian by telling your child that you have deliberately chosen this person as your replacement and that they should honor that person’s decisions as if they were your own.

It’s also an opportunity to tell your child’s potential guardian about some of your wishes for your child. They may be more likely to carry out these wishes if they hear your heartfelt sincerity.

These videos always make me teary, but I am comforted to know that most of us will not need to use them. If nothing else, you have peace of mind knowing you covered all your bases.

You can talk about sensitive issues that are difficult to discuss in person.

Talking about your end-of-life decisions is uncomfortable, and you may be better able to express yourself in front of the camera than in front of your family. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to say but found it too difficult, make a recording that can be played for your loved ones after your death.

It’s one more way to express how much you care for the people in your life.

You have maybe seen a movie or TV show where a recording from a deceased loved one contains important information that helps a person in a difficult moment. It contains messages of encouragement and love.

You might like to do the same for your own family–but no one can receive this message if you don’t send it first!

With digital technology, it’s so easy to make and store videos, and your messages could be important for future generations. You have an opportunity to get creative and to make a final memory for your loved ones.

A last will & testament must be in writing in order to be considered valid, so a video recording is not a substitute for a will or another estate planning document. As videos become more prevalent, however, there is room in your estate plan to create a video document that can supplement the documents you’ve created.

To learn more, head back to Side by Side Planner.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article should not be considered tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently and the information in this article may not reflect your own state's laws or the most recent changes in state or federal law. For current tax and legal advice, please consult with an accountant or attorney licensed to practice in your state.
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