We understand that your plan for your estate and how you want your assets distributed after your death can feel very private. You may not want to discuss the careful thought that went into each decision, and you certainly don’t want to hear your children or other beneficiaries squabbling over what they’ll be getting once you’ve died. But while this point of view is very reasonable and understandable, there really are some people you need to talk to when crafting your personal estate plan.
Your Children’s Guardians. If you have any dependent children or adult children with disabilities, you’ll need to appoint at least two guardians for them. The guardian of the child’s person will act as their caregiver and try, to the best of their ability, to be the parent you’d be if you were still around. This person will decide which school your child goes to and whether or not they can have a sleepover with their friends on a school night. The guardian of the estate of the child will carefully manage your child’s assets to ensure they have enough money now and in the future. These should be different people (and not spouses) to protect your child from a guardian who may take advantage of their young charge’s wealth. It is vital that you talk with anyone you are considering for your children’s guardian. You’ll need to confirm they are willing and able to act as your child’s guardian and that they will prioritize the things that are most important to you — such as continued access to a grandparent.
Your Beneficiaries. While you certainly don’t have to tell your beneficiaries what you’re leaving them and why. It can help to prevent would-be heirs from challenging the will. Another option is to explain in the will itself why you made the decisions you made. You may also want to leave a letter to each beneficiary. This is less important if you’ve divided your estate very equally, and more necessary if you’re distributing assets, like artwork, vehicles, or antiques, that are much more difficult to divide amongst numerous beneficiaries.
Your Estate Executor. Like your children’s guardians, it is very important to speak with your estate executor before appointing them. If you read our recent blog on the many, many duties of an estate executor, you’ll understand your asking your trusted friend or family member to take on a huge responsibility for, on average, a year and a half. Beyond just making sure they’re up for the task, you’ll need to discuss with your executor important things like how they can locate your will and how you’ll organize your accounts and memberships, so they can easily contact everyone and distribute your estate as effectively as possible.
Our expert estate advisors are here to help you each step of the way. Whether you’re avoiding talking about your estate because you’re worried about family squabbles or you’re simply struggling with how to bring it up, our professionals have the experience to answer your questions and provide creative solutions. Get started on your personalized estate plan today with a free consultation.