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Planning With an Aim Towards Building Unity

Battles over the validity or terms of will or trust wreak havoc on families (I represent a couple of clients in the middle of these battles right now! It pains me to witness the destruction). These conflicts may result in irreparable resentment and loss of familial communication. Old rivalries and disputes can resurface during the trying time that occurs after the death of a loved one, especially a parent. Sad but true, if you are lucky, you will not be here to witness it. What if you are only incapacitated? Unfortunately, while you may still able to bear witness to what is happening to your family and friends you may be unable to do anything about it. Careful estate planning can help you substantially reduce the risk, or even avoid this problem entirely. Let us take a look at a few of the ways you can build your estate plan to minimize family conflicts if you are incapacitated and after you are gone. Keep your plan up-to-date: An up-to-date estate plan can help you preserve family unity after death or in the event of incapacity. Even if you have put an estate plan in place in recent years, estate planning is an ongoing process and needs attention at regular intervals. An out-of-date plan can become misaligned with your goals, new laws, and policies, rendering it less effective and more likely to generate conflict (the last thing you want). Select key individuals in your plan: You can give certainty to your family and make your wishes easier to carry out by selecting the right people as your key players in carrying out your estate plan. Make sure that you have thoughtfully selected the right people to carry out your estate plan. A few of the key individuals you will have to select:

  • Successor trustee - This person will manage your trust’s assets when you are unable to do so.

  • Personal Representative/Executor - This person is appointed in your will to manage your probate estate if one is needed. In many cases, you may select the same person as your successor trustee. However, if you do not make them the same person, remember that your personal representative/executor MUST be able to work closely with your successor trustee to ensure that everything is handled smoothly and in a timely fashion.

  • Healthcare Agent - This person or persons is authorized to communicate with your medical providers and make medical decisions if you are unable to do so.