Communication is Important

An often overlooked part of estate planning is communicating with all the people named in your estate plan. Talking with them can ensure a smooth transition during the difficult period after your death, while surprises can create a lot of problems.

The two most important things to do are providing your agent (executor, trustee, and/or guardian) with all the details necessary to understand the level of their responsibility and discussing your plans with your family.

Informing Your Agent

Your agent should know exactly what you are asking and expecting from them. This will allow them to both consider whether they will be able to fulfill the role and to carry it out according to your wishes.

Aside from preventing the agent from coming across unexpected duties, you can adapt the agent’s role to their preferences such as whether or not they want the power to override your instructions on how to handle and distribute your assets if a reason to do so develops.

Discuss Your Plans with Family

Communicating your wishes to your beneficiaries has many benefits.

  • It will ensure your family understands what your wishes are and, in some cases, your intentions and reasoning.
  • Knowing what you plan to leave to them when you die can help them plan for it.
  • Having a two-way discussion can help build relationships and avoid family discord that might reduce the likelihood of litigation contesting your estate plan.
  • Your family may be able to help you make these decisions. For example, one child may recognize the need for another to get more of your assets and encourage you to do so.
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