Estate Planning can be an emotional process. Obviously, it’s never easy is to talk about death and incapacity but putting those aside for a moment, neither is it easy to choose one child over the other when deciding who will be the Trustee or Executor of the Estate. Luckily, after many years, I am able to successfully serve as my clients’ navigator so that together we are able to maneuver our way through the mine field those pesky ‘inner child’ issues would otherwise create as we make the tough choices that smart estate planning inevitably requires.
While to some, estate planning might be a stressful and emotionally-charged topic, I'm happy to report that most of my clients don’t feel that way. Our years of experience have allowed us to find ways to defuse not only the hurtful emotions that could bubble to the surface but also to shorten the time it takes to establish an ‘estate plan that works’. Although a recent Forbes article, titled “Don't Let Emotion Sabotage Your Estate Plan,” emphasizes that establishing a detailed plan can take anywhere from six months to two years, I can assure you that that will not be your experience once you’ve entered our door.
Here are some ideas to push past the emotional aspects of estate planning to make sure your surviving family members can successfully deal with issues that may arise after you pass away.
To help the people you care about handle the financial, administrative and familial consequences of your eventual passing, be as transparent as possible about what your beneficiaries may receive from your estate and exactly who will be in charge of how and when that inheritance will come to them after your death. That helps to ensure that the dispersal of your estate goes smoothly, and your wishes are successfully fulfilled. Mismatched expectations can often cause trouble that could’ve easily been avoided if the news wasn’t coming as such a surprise. After all, an inheritance can be a life-altering event, so it’s important to discuss it with your loved ones upfront so they can be mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared.
Discussing your estate plans with your loved ones can also help eliminate some potentially difficult situations, like when one sibling is inheriting more than another. Hopefully, the family members receiving less will understand your reasoning and as long as they are forewarned and assured that the planning has nothing to do with your love and affection for them, you will have derailed any hurt feelings.
A good estate plan can become outdated or irrelevant easily, “if it sits on a shelf.” A three-year time line for estate planning is a good rule. This means a regular review of your trust to make sure it accurately reflects your current situation and your wishes is essential. We insist on this triennial review and to make it more palatable to our clients, we offer these reviews at no additional charge.
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning. However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project. Why not call us for a complimentary consultation at 757-259-0707.
Reference: Forbes (May 15, 2015) “Don't Let Emotion Sabotage Your Estate Plan”