Parents can leave a legacy of love through careful estate planning. Planners can make their passing easier on the heirs and beneficiaries by sharing and having discussions.
Build a Team
Hopefully, parents build a strong team of financial planners and advisers and insist that the backup manager (successor trustee) meets each one of them. Sometimes without warning, the parents (trustees) get sick or die, and then have no ability to train their replacements or deliver critical information.
With planning and forethought, when eventual management transfer occurs, these connections are invaluable. They assist with smooth transition of bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, finances, and family heirlooms. The successor trustees know whom to call and they already know each other.
The parents negotiated the estate fees, which are typically 3 to 6 percent of the total value of the estate. They then put the money in a separate bank account that the daughter as executor, had immediate access to.
Family furniture, nick-knacks, coins, jewelry, stamps, photos, awards, and collectables may not be very valuable if sold to an outsider. On the other hand, the family dynamics may be improved or destroyed by ignoring the personal attachments to these items.
If there is an emotional attachment to a specific item, it should be known to all beneficiaries as a concern of the planning process. Hopefully, allotments can be planned for eventual distribution to satisfy all family members. If there is a significant value difference, fairness can be maintained by assessing an agreed amount to the item, and offsetting the rest of the estate by adjusting that value with other assets.
Disclose Who Receives Less
If there is a disinherited family member, declare why in the documents, and make it clear in the Will and the Statement of Wishes. It is not necessary to explain it again in trust documents. If you are giving portions to grandkids, or skipping a generation, explain that plan, and declare your reasoning. Some families give unequal portions to the poorest (or youngest) (or oldest) (or affluent) family members.
Disclose Documents & Locations
When planning, make a List of Assets, List of Debts, List of Accounts, List of Passwords, Health Records, Health Directives, and other lists like Insurance, Warranties, and Repair Records. Make triplicates of these papers to be delivered to 1) the successor trustees, 2) a safe spot in the residence, and 3) a separate backup location (such as with another relative). These records should be safe enough to prevent a wayward relative from stealing your identity, yet available during a medical crisis or death. Do not keep documents in a safe, because entry to the box may be controlled by the courts and probate, bypassing your plan. The time delay and costs could be painful.
When the parents were still healthy, they added their daughter to bank accounts and put her name on the checks, as an additional trustee. When their health began to fail, this made it much easier for the daughter to handle their bills. They also made sure there was enough money in the account to pay bills and maintenance, in case the house did not sell for a long time.
Prepare for The End
Because the discussions about emergencies, death, and funeral arrangements are hard to do, and difficult to fully remember, they created a master binder and simply told her that their final wishes would be listed in the binder.
The authorís father urged her to take an executorís commission of 2 to 3 percent, which she declined. Once both parents passed, she reconsidered, since she found that being an executor is a big job. When she and her brothers went to split his IRA, she found that he had stipulated in the beneficiary forms that she was to receive 3 percent more than her sisters for her work as executor. In doing so, he preserved her family relationships and let her know he appreciated the task she was doing as executor.
Our Parentís Final Gift
Estate planning is much more than distributing assets. Often, it is avoiding disputes, settling accounts, intimate discussions with family members, a permanent gift to those you love, a transfer of history, and an enduring legacy you leave behind.
Keep Your Successors Informed
Today, you must create your own estate plan and privacy. You can accomplish massive privacy with the use of many types of organizations, but the privacy should not impossibly restricted and locked up in a safe or safety deposit box, or hidden so that it cannot be implemented.
The goal of this website, our trust company, and our staff is to assist families and children. We are very interested in assisting families to train their children to gradually become mature, assume management, handle assets responsibly, and then maintain prosperous families of their own. We are available for family meetings, family (or friends) combined training and information discussions, anytime, including weekend, evenings, and holidays.