Here are some very useful tips to help your family when you are gone:
- Don’t keep your estate plan a secret. It’s far better if everyone knows what is going to happen ahead of time so that you can deal with questions or concerns now.
- Decide on what “descendant” means to you. Maybe one of your children has a stepchild you consider your grandchild, and the other has children but never married. Expanding or contracting the definition of child will ensure your estate goes where you want it to.
- Minimize the number of executors. The more you have, the more opportunity for conflict. Also, choose an executor who is best suited to the role; don’t choose someone just so that they are not left out.
- In trusts, set broad rules and allow for flexibility. Encroachments for education are good; encroachments for culinary school are not. What if your child wants to be an engineer?
- Separate your executor from the guardian of your children. The person asking for money should not be the same as the person giving it.
- Take time for review. I tell my clients to look at their wills every 3-5 years and do a complete overhaul every 10. Nothing stays the same, and your estate plan should keep pace.
A careful estate plan can lead to a smooth estate administration. Losing a loved one is never easy; don’t make it harder.