We recently hosted a client seminar to discuss things that can go wrong with even a well drafted estate plan. Most often things go wrong with an estate plan as a result of lack of communication between the parties (i.e. our clients, their successor trustees, and the beneficiaries). While documents are drafted to follow the clients’ wishes, many times the clients do not consider the impact the documents may have on their beneficiaries after they have passed away.
Communication about the estate plan can help alleviate some of the difficulties which can occur following a death. If the family is aware of the parents’ intent regarding the distribution of personal property for instance, the arguments regarding the jewelry, piano or grandfather clock might be eliminated. If the parents have carefully considered their choice of trustee, the administration of the estate will be smoother and there will be less potential for conflict, even if this means that a non family member should serve as trustee.
A new legal practice method is being utilized to help with some of these areas. A collaborative practice is designed to involve the whole family in the estate planning process. The goal is to avoid family conflict following the passing of the parents. The hope is that if everyone is involved and aware of the provisions in the documents, the conflicts will be minimized after the death of the parents. While not every family can have meaningful and useful discussions about these areas, for those that can, having a discussion regarding the estate plan can make the administration much easier. These meetings can be held with the attorney, a mediator or professional facilitator to review and discuss the issues that are presented in the plan.
If you would like to learn more, please click here to view our slide presentation from the program.
* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.