6/12/2018: Keeping the Peace After You Are GoneJune 13, 2018
Keeping the Peace After You Are Gone
Planning With an Aim Towards Building
A will or trust contest can wreak havoc on
families. The conflict can result in possibly
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. But careful estate
planning can help you substantially reduce
the risk, or even avoid this problem
Let’s take a look at a few of the ways you
can build your estate plan to minimize
family conflicts after you’re 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 An out-of-date plan can become misaligned with your goals, new laws,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’ve thoughtfully selected the right people to
carry out your estate plan. A few of the key individuals you’ll have to select:
o Successor trustee – This person will manage your trust’s assets when you are
unable to do so.
o 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
Condie & Adams, PLLC
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Kirkland WA 98033
Condie & Adams, PLLC is a
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trust administration, tax planning, and
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trustee. However, if you don’t, remember that your executor must work closely
with your successor trustee to ensure that everything is handled smoothly and
in a timely fashion.
o Health care proxy – This person is authorized to communicate with your medical
providers and make medical decisions if you are unable to do so.
o Financial agent – This person is authorized to make financial decisions on your
behalf. They will likely need to work closely with your successor trustee, or you
may designate the same person to serve in both roles.
· Share your wisdom: By sharing your stories and wisdom (through ethical wills, intent
letters, personal stories, videos, etc.) you can help your family understand the legacy
you want to leave so that the wealth you’re leaving doesn’t become a distraction or
point of contention.
· Don’t try to DIY: While it might be tempting to cut corners and take your estate plan
into your own hands, taking a do-it-yourself approach is never wise. This sets the stage
for potentially inadequate planning, which increases the likelihood of will or trust
contests and will likely mean your estate isn’t distributed how you’d like it to be in the
end. Let your estate planning attorney do the heavy lifting — we’re always here to help.
· Be clear about your intentions: Are you planning on giving more of your total assets to
one child than the others? Or are there other ways in which your estate planning goals
may upset some of your beneficiaries (or those who aren’t beneficiaries)? It can be a
very tricky subject to broach, but if you foresee hurt feelings, consider being as clear as
possible about your wealth distribution plans with those individuals. This will limit the
potential for confusion and disagreement down the road. It may – or may not – make
sense to explain this to your family. But, it’s always incredibly important to let us know
the reasons so we can develop a rock-solid legal strategy for your goals.
· Consider discretionary trusts: If you have a child or other potential beneficiary who
struggles with addiction, mental health problems, or other conditions that could hinder
their ability to use their inheritance in a healthy way, you might want to consider a
discretionary trust. With this type of trust, you can control the disbursements based on
your beneficiary meeting certain requirements — such as attending a treatment
program or enrolling in higher education. This can help you treat each child fairly by
taking into consideration what is best for each child’s unique situation.
Will or trust contests can tear a family apart, and can also be time-consuming, costly, and
embarrassing for the family that remains. If someone who feels slighted by your estate plan can
convince the court that your will or trust is invalid, chaos can break loose and your intended
beneficiaries can lose their inheritances. Typical reasons a family member might use to say your
estate plan is invalid are that it wasn’t signed, you didn’t have the capacity to make the estate
planning decisions you made, the documents were fraudulent, or that you were pressured or
influenced to sign documents.
Let us help you make sure that none of these events unfold. We’re here to guide you every step
of the way through creating and maintaining a timely, robust, and strategic estate plan. Give us
a call today to make sure your plan is current and includes all the necessary provisions to keep a
contest from occurring in the future.
This newsletter is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as written advice about a
Federal tax matter. Readers should consult with their own professional advisors to evaluate or pursue tax,
accounting, financial, or legal planning strategies.
You have received this newsletter because I believe you will find its content valuable. Please feel free to Contact Me if you have any
questions about this or any matters relating to estate planning.
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