If the thought of loved ones locked in conflict over managing your affairs and distributing your assets makes you queasy, pave the way for smooth passage through careful estate planning. Either a will or a trust enables families to lay out how assets are ultimately to be distributed.
Communication and Clarity
When grief combines with confusion, hurt feelings or jealously, the combination can cause lasting damage in family relationships. Even families that are generally close can experience the flair ups of long unspoken tensions or dysfunctions in the face of the death of a loved one. A clear and specific plan for assets, established via a will and or trust, that is effectively communicated, is ultimately the best gift we can offer those we care about. Attorneys at Phelps LaClair offer this guidance:
There are many reasons why families fight over inheritance when a loved one passes away. Sometimes it simply boils down to sibling rivalry, or it can be out of greed over a wealthy estate. Passing on the family cabin or a small business can also lead to disputes, as some family members may feel more entitled to the property than others. And in some cases, ex-spouses get involved, making things messy. But much of the time, these disputes are caused by a poorly executed estate plan or the lack of one altogether…. It’s important to draft a will that specifically states how you wish your assets to be distributed as soon as possible. If you die without a will, the court will pass your assets to your next of kin however they decide is best.
As important as it is to make a will, doing so does not necessarily guarantee that everything will proceed smoothly and free of conflict. It’s important to use the most clear and specific language in a will as possible—and to take time to have discussions that enable loved ones to understand your intentions, especially if you are making decisions that might come across as unusual or unexpected. Attorneys advise:
Being specific in your designations and instructions will help avoid uncertainty about your wishes….You should list every individual by first and last name instead of grouping people together by relation(for example, “my children”) . You need to specifically list which asset each person is to receive, how it should be given, and how much of it they will get….The clearer the language you use, the less likely someone will contest the will and the less likely there will be by fighting among family members….If you want to prevent a dispute, communication is key. Whether it’s about the distribution of your assets or the designation of a role, it’s essential to communicate your decisions with everyone involved. Keep your beneficiaries informed of any changes you make to your will or other estate planning documents….Discuss any roles you assign, like executor or trustee, with that person in advance so they fully understand the responsibilities.
When you appoint an executor for a will and or a trustee for a trust, keep in mind that these are not symbolic roles. Executors and trustees are fiduciaries and are legally accountable for exercising reasonable care and skill in managing the assets and estate. Accordingly, a fiduciary bond is often required to protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with applicable state law. Essentially, fiduciary bonds, such as executor bonds and trustee bonds, guarantee the faithful performance of the appointed administrator. As a leading national provider of many types of fiduciary bonds, Colonial Surety makes it easy and efficient to obtain an executor bond or a trustee bond. Just get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter your payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even the law office.
Speed and Privacy
While there is nothing inherently wrong with the public probate process that settles our affairs when we die, it can take some time. If privacy and speed are important related to your plans to distribute assets to loved ones, establishing a trust can be helpful, because assets place in a trust do not go through probate. You can learn more about trusts right here. Keep in mind, as estate lawyers remind us: “You can avoid probate by placing your assets in a trust so that they automatically transfer to your beneficiaries after you pass. Just make sure that you fund the trust by transferring ownership of the assets, and choose a trustworthy successor trustee who will manage and distribute the assets for you.” Estate planning experts also explain, “Regardless of whether you use a will or a trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan, both wills and trusts need to be administered after death, meaning that there is work to be done to distribute your assets to your loved ones after your death.”
Estate Law Practice?
Whenever fiduciary bonds are needed or required, lawyers and their clients rely on Colonial Surety’s efficient online service to quickly obtain a quote, make the purchase and instantly print or e-file the bond. Colonial’s fiduciary bond portfolio includes: trustee, conservator, guardian, personal representative, administrator, estate, executor, probate, surrogate, and more. We have a full array of court bonds too. As a direct bond writer, licensed for business in every state, Colonial meets the specific requirements of obligees. Our pricing is exceptionally reasonable— there are never any “middle” fees.
In addition to providing bonds directly to the general public, Colonial offers The Partnership Account® for Attorneys . This free business service provides user-friendly client management dashboards, enabling attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. See for yourself today: The Partnership Account® for Attorneys.
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Whenever and wherever you need a bond, trust Colonial: www.colonialsurety.com