The estate planning process can be confusing, and it is important to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. When property and assets are involved, sometimes even the closest families can be contentious. You can make sure the trust administration process goes well by planning ahead and making your wishes clear. Here are some tips about choosing a trustee, communicating your wishes and updating your estate plan.
Give authority to people you trust
Choosing the right people for overseeing and administering your trust is perhaps the most important thing you do regarding your estate plan. Filling the roles of trustee, executor and general power of attorney with dependable people is key to ensuring your trust is in good hands. These people make important fiduciary decisions and assist surviving family members. Choosing people you trust and who are close with beneficiaries are good places to start.
Explain your intentions and wishes clearly
One issue that may result in contention and litigation is an unexpected result from your will. A restricted spouse or disinherited child may be shocked, and it could lead to hurt feelings, resentment or fractured family relationships. While these conversations may be difficult to have, it is important to get your motivations out on the table before someone is surprised.
You also need to be explicitly clear in your trust documents. Because a judge can only approve something that aligns with your intent, you need to carefully write out your wishes regarding your property. Even making typographical errors or using a slightly different legal term can cause confusion and roadblocks to the trust administration process. Carefully write a precise document that leaves little to no room for interpretation.
Updating your estate plan
Life is unpredictable, and the future of your assets can change in an instant. Even small changes can affect the distribution of your estate. Common reasons to revisit and alter your will and other documents include:
- New marriage
- New baby
- Predeceased beneficiary
- Beneficiaries who have special needs
- Relocation to a new state
You may even want to add a new beneficiary, including your favorite charity. Whether you have changed your mind about something or an unexpected change in your life occurred, reviewing and revising your estate plan is important.
When you follow the above guidelines with the counsel of an estate planning attorney, the distribution of your assets is likely to run much smoother. Consulting an attorney is important no matter where you are at in the estate planning process.