We consistently tell our clients an estate plan is a gift to their family. While an estate plan brings our clients peace of mind, an estate plan’s primary value is providing loved ones with guidance regarding your affairs after you are no longer able to speak for yourself. To give your estate plan the most utility (if you do not yet have an estate plan, click here to learn why you should have one) we recommend talking to your family or your appointees regarding your estate plan for the following three reasons:
1. Letting Your Appointee(s) Know Where the Estate Plan Is.
One of the most unfortunate consequences of keeping an estate plan secret is no one can find the original estate plan documents when they are needed. Letting your appointees know where they can find the documents they need to act on your behalf (whether it is a Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, Will, or Trust), can prevent headaches and the possibility a Court orders mere copies of document(s) are ineffective, because the originals were never found.
2. Letting Your Family Member(s) Know the Rationale Behind Your Appointments.
You may have a perfectly rational and valid reason to not appoint your parent, child, sibling, niece, nephew, etc. as a power of attorney, trustee, or health care proxy – even though you trust and cherish them. We have clients who do appoint family members to protect them from the emotional or temporal burden. Unfortunately, if you do not speak with them to give these reasons, your family could invent or be led to believe an untrue and harmful narrative.
False narratives can cause family division and conflict. Letting your family member(s) know why they were not appointed can provide you an opportunity to explain and reassure your family member(s) about how much you care for them.
3. Letting Your Appointees Know What You Expect From Them.
Talking to your appointees about your estate plan gives you an opportunity to let your appointees know what you expect from them and reduces surprises. Surprises, like false narratives, can cause conflict or confusion. Talking to your appointees gives you a chance to explain why you appointed co-trustees (if you did) or what assets you have and how you want them to be handled, including family heirlooms. Having this conversation with your appointee also gives the appointee an opportunity to ask you for clarification, so they can better implement your directives.
This conversation also gives the appointee an opportunity to ask for help. For example, the appointee may ask you to speak with your beneficiaries or write them a letter providing your reasons for an unequal distribution or distributions of sentimental assets, to avoid false narratives, family conflict, and potentially litigation.
Whether you need to create an estate plan or update your estate plan, we’re happy to help! Complete our convenient online and confidential estate planning worksheet now, and we’ll contact you to schedule a free consultation at our offices.