Estate plans aren’t only meant to benefit you; they are also meant to benefit your family, long after you’re gone. For example, your estate plan outlines the ways in which your physical assets are allocated amongst your surviving family members. Because estate planning inherently includes family, however, there can sometimes be tension and disagreement. Anticipating this, and establishing certain safeguards, can help avoid clashes later on. As such, we’re happy to provide a few family estate planning tips—which we hope will be helpful in keeping the peace between you and your loved ones.
One of the most important estate planning strategies is selecting the right executor. The executor is the person who’s placed in charge of actually carrying out the instructions in your will. As such, it needs to be someone who is trustworthy and responsible. We also recommend choosing someone who is independent.
Whenever possible, select an independent executor to set the estate plan in motion. This avoids claims of delaying the execution of the estate plan or stealing from the assets without anyone’s knowledge. The bottom line: You want this important job to go to someone who doesn’t have a dog in the fight—usually not to a family member.
Another strategy for estate plan management is to remember that it’s highly personal. (You can find many a famous personal property case to attest to this.)
Indeed, even the most minor bits of property, like a souvenir trinket or a piece of jewelry, can become the cause for a family feud if it is not clear who will get them. Include personal property in the estate plan and be as specific as possible to avoid future conflict.
Also: Communicate with heirs to ask if there are certain properties that mean a lot to them, and that they really hope to receive. Set some expectations early on, ensuring there is no confusion when assets are distributed.
Timing is an important matter, especially when it comes to the distribution of assets.
Early release of assets is not a good thing, but neither is an overly-delayed transfer. Another no-no would be incremental transfer of assets over an extended period of time. This can lead to sentiments that the parents do not want to have their assets transferred to their children in the long run.
Avoid these situations at all cost. The best way to do that is through clear and efficient estate plan management. Speak with your estate attorney about how you can achieve this goal.
You may have situations where it is either impossible or simply unwise to equally distribute assets among heirs. Naturally, these situations can lead to some hurt feelings—but clear communication can really go a long way. Make sure you talk things through with your family members to give them the rationale for any uneven distributions.
On a related note, you can also speak with your estate planning attorney to learn more about estate planning strategies that ensure a more equal asset distribution.
In the end, the estate plan is always intended to benefit its heirs. Dealing with possible conflict early on will avoid disagreements and breakdowns in the future. Communication with the family and the hired estate planning attorney is key.
For help handling an estate plan in a way that keeps everyone on the same page, reach out to the professionals at Singh Law Firm. Our estate planning attorneys are highly experienced in helping families create workable, beneficial strategies. Start the conversation today by calling Singh Law Firm, and ask us more about our expertise in revocable living trusts, pour-over wills, and other estate planning tips and strategies.