If we become incapacitated, and when we ultimately die, there is so much our families will need to know and do—while grieving. Putting an estate plan in place and communicating about it while we have the ability to do so—can be a real gift.
Naturally, confronting our own mortality and engaging in conversations about it is uncomfortable. Many people place a high value on independence and privacy, and seek to avoid conflict and hurt feelings. According to estate law specialists, these dynamics frequently get in the way of communicating with families about plans for organizing our affairs. However, as Frank and Kraft suggest, there are compelling reasons for sharing our plans with family and friends:
One reason to share your estate plan details with loved ones is so that they will know what to do if something happens to you. After your death, for example, someone must step in and take care of the practical and legal things required to settle your affairs and probate your estate. Discussing your estate plan details with the person you appoint as your Executor ensures that he/she is prepared to step up when the time comes to fulfill his/her duties….
The same basic concept applies if you become incapacitated. If you executed an advance directive that named someone as your health care Agent, it can save time and stress if that person is already aware of the appointment and is ready to act when the time comes to do so….
Another reason to share your estate plan details is to decrease the likelihood of litigation. For instance, if you know that decisions you made within your estate plan are likely to be controversial, letting beneficiaries know ahead of time may reduce the likelihood of litigation after you are gone. Remaining silent may make it easier to question – and legally challenge – your bequests within your Will once you are gone.
Once you have made a will and designated an executor, be sure at a minimum to communicate with your executor, sharing as much as you can about your intentions and the practical information and documents that will be needed to carry out your plans. Although often waived when creating a will, note that estate bonds can help inspire the confidence of everyone involved. Sometimes they are even required during the probate process.
An estate bond is a type of fiduciary bond: it guarantees the beneficiaries that the estate will be administered in accordance with state law. Estate bonds are alternatively referred to as executor, personal representative or probate bonds. It is quick and easy to obtain any of these bonds from a leading national provider: Colonial Surety Company. Just get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond anytime, from anywhere. Obtain Estate Bond Here.
Not sure you have enough assets to warrant making a will? Consider that in many ways, the less assets we have, the more important it is to plan-fully pass them forward. As Cassady Law Offices advises: Estate planning is no longer an option only for the wealthy; people in all walks of life are looking to make the most of their assets and their choices. If you are really worried that talking about your estate plan while you are alive could fuel serious family conflicts, consider creating a “Letter of Instructions.” Frank and Kraft explain:
This is a document that allows you to provide relevant information to beneficiaries that is not included elsewhere in your plan. Although it is not a legally binding document, it can provide you with the ability to explain decisions you made elsewhere in your estate plan. In essence, this lets you explain things after the fact instead of while you are here which can help prevent discord or litigation.
As you consider how to best organize your affairs with your family, keep in mind that fiduciary bonds are often a helpful way to protect the interests of your beneficiaries. Colonial Surety makes it easy and efficient to secure fiduciary bonds of all kinds, including, estate bonds. Learn more about estate bonds right here.
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