Discussing Estate Plans with your Loved Ones
The reading of your Will should never be the first time your executor and loved ones learn about your Estate plans. Talking with these important individuals may be one of the most essential parts of managing your Estate prior to your death.
Your executor has a big job. He or she will need to know where to locate your assets and which funds to access to pay for funeral expenses, probate fees and taxes. They should not be digging through desk drawers and searching bank statements after your death for clues as to where to find your assets and determine your liabilities.
Your Executor must be prepared to deal with your Estate plan prior to your death, and have an understanding of what is entailed with its administration. Once you complete your Will, sit down with the Executor and walk them through it. This is the kindest thing you can do for both the Executor and the beneficiaries.
Most importantly, you should have the consent of your chosen Executor prior to appointing them, given the burden of determining your assets and liabilities and explaining the contents of the Will to your beneficiaries. The same goes for anyone who will inherit a business they’ll be expected to run, or sell.
Beyond these individuals, no one necessarily needs to know what’s in your Will, and many people feel a sense of privacy about their decisions. However, it is best to disclose your plans to your spouse, children or other beneficiaries.
They do not need to know the extent of the Estate, just how your plan divides the assets so there is no surprise. For example, most parents do not want young adults inheriting large sums of money, so they create a testamentary trust within the Will which pays the beneficiary his or her inheritance in stages. This is good parenting and by disclosing the plan to your children, you will manage their expectations and avoid upset when you are gone.
Managing expectations is also important when there is an unequal need among beneficiaries. For example, a couple may have three adult children: one who is a successful businessperson, one who is a single parent and one who has a disability. The distribution to the three children likely will not be equal in such a circumstance, and your rationale should be explained to the children well prior to your death.
You carefully plan your Estate to be the most advantageous to your loved ones. But part of that advantage is having the whole Estate management process run as orderly and smoothly as possible, with no surprises or conflict at a time when they are already troubled with your passing and adjusting to life without you.
A lawyer can help you to understand the wide range of issues that arise with estate planning. If you would like advice or for more information regarding such matters please contact Chahal Priddle LLP at 250-372-3233 to set up an appointment today.