Estate planning is one of the best things you can do for your family and heirs. The tremendous burden of loss after a loved one passes is hard enough without having to sift through the complex and disorganized financial affairs of the diseased. Organizing and arranging for the estate begins with open and honest discussion. But who should be involved in these discussions? Their very nature entails a level of transparency that is not appropriate for everyone to be privy to.
The Primary Individual(s)
Any discussions about the financial affairs of an individual or couple need to include that individual. This seems obvious, there have been instances where children or siblings try to initiate plans on behalf of parents or elders without even notifying them. If an elder has been professionally diagnosed as mentally unsound, that’s another story. But otherwise, the primary individual should always be present for such conversations.
Estate Planning Attorney
Once decisions have been made among stakeholders, the next person to bring in on estate planning discussions is an estate planning attorney. This attorney can review the intended plans, make suggestions and determine if the requested plans are possible, and how they could be put into place. The experience of an estate planning lawyer is of the highest value since they are aware of the best strategies to avoid possible complications or issues after the loved one has passed. Bring in the estate planning attorney as soon as possible after choices have been made among family members, so there is the least possible delay between the decision-making to the drawing up and execution of necessary legal documents. Ideally, all the relevant parties should meet together as a group with the estate planning lawyer so that any questions can be cleared up and everyone is on the same page.
Executor of the Estate
The executor of the estate must be privy to all discussions pertaining to the estate plan; ideally from the very first conversation. If you trust the executor enough to name them as such, then you must trust them with many of the private financial facts of the estate. While it’s not necessary to go into every detail, the goal is to make sure that the executor is comfortable with their role and the actions that role will entail.
Unlike in the movies, it’s not a good idea to spring a surprise on your primary beneficiary or group of main beneficiaries. Just as you want to plan your financial future, you should respect that your beneficiaries would like to know what’s ahead for them. For instance, if you plan to leave equal shares of your estate to multiple children, letting them in on that information and discussions will help them to anticipate and plan accordingly.
Note that it’s not necessary to bring in other, minor beneficiaries to estate planning discussions. The parties mentioned above are the key stakeholders and are the ones who have a definite need to be privy to these conversations. For more information about estate planning and to get started with an estate attorney in New Hampshire today, please contact Beasley & Ferber today.