Preparing your family for what will happen upon your passing is a crucial and often overlooked part of the estate planning process. Along with drafting your estate plan, you may have neglected an important part of the process- communicating your plans.
It’s important to communicate your intentions to the implementers of your documents. Typically friends and family are chosen as trustee, executor, power of attorney, or health care proxy and must act in your best interest at all times. Not discussing the details of your plan may create confusion, disorder, and even potential litigation.
When executing your health care proxy, discuss your preferences for dealing with illness or death, palliative (comfort) care, life-sustaining care, and treatments you may need if you were to become incompetent. For those with a do not resuscitate (DNR) order in place, your proxy will appreciate a conversation with you to prepare them in the event they need to approve a DNR order.
Before naming a legal guardian for your children, make sure they share the same values and religious preferences as you. While there may be no better compliment than entrusting someone to raise your children, they may not be willing or financially able to take on the challenge.
After finding the right fit, you may also want to discuss traditions or any specific wishes you have for your kids. You will also want to explain how your children will be taken care of financially via trust, life insurance proceeds, or other potential income streams to help with their support.
Family or friends who you designate as your executor have a fiduciary duty to distribute assets according to your wishes. Conversations regarding your estate plans can help them have a better understanding of your intentions.
While conversations around your demise can be difficult, discussing your wishes and preferences with the key players in your estate plan can help to ensure a smooth transition when the time comes.
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