A well-crafted estate plan along with a will and mandate is half the battle. What many individuals don’t realize is that a key aspect of your estate plan is communicating your wishes to your loved ones far in advance. Not only does this help ensure your wishes will be respected, it also can spare your loved ones stress and uncertainty. Our top reasons to start the conversation early are the following.
1. Final Wishes Regarding Your Care
You may have laid your directives for your personal and health care in your mandate, or you may simply have feelings about how you would like to be cared for in the event of incapacity or at the end of your life. Are those wishes known to your partner and family members? In order to avoid disagreements and confusion among family members later it’s crucial to have these discussions with your loved ones early on. While these conversations may be difficult to broach, they generally relieve your loved ones of significant responsibility during a very emotionally charged time.
2. Who Will Settle Your Estate
Do your loved ones know who will settle your estate? Whether you’ve named them, a trusted advisor, or a trust company as your liquidator, your partner and beneficiaries should be made aware of who will be responsible to settle your estate. This helps avoid surprises and delays when the time comes. It also allows you the opportunity to explain your choice to them. Did you choose a trust company instead of family members so that they wouldn’t have to spend their precious time settling the estate? The best thing is to tell them why so that they appreciate your choice and don’t wonder why they weren’t selected.
3. Specific Bequests
Often a will outlines specific bequests. Family heirlooms or vacation properties may be gifted to specific individuals. Have you spoken to these individuals about the assets they will inherit? Often times, for example, parents assume that their children want to inherit the family cottage, however that is not always the case. Sometimes children have no interest in maintaining a property or do not want to co-own it with their siblings. Having discussions with your family in advance can help avoid headaches and disputes after you’re gone and ensure beneficiaries are left with assets they actually want.
4. Other Particularities
Does your will create a spousal trust with the intention of preserving your wealth for the next generation? Maybe your will stipulates that your children are to inherit their share of your estate in trust to avoid it being subject to a family property claim by their spouse. Explaining your choices to your beneficiaries in advance allows them to understand your intentions and reasoning and reduces the likelihood that there will be complications later.
5. General Logistics
Do your loved ones know where the copy of your will is kept? Does your executor have a copy? It’s important to advise as to where these documents, along with your passwords and any digital assets, are stored. This can help avoid panic and delays when it comes times to settle your estate.
We’re Here to Help
If you have questions, would like us to review your will or your estate plan, or need advice on having these conversations with your loved ones, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Estates and Trusts professionals.