Some of the Most Difficult Decisions
31 Oct 2016
Recently, I sat down with a senior client who has adult children. Her and her husband owned a small business with a significant amount of assets. After her husband passed, it took nearly 18 months to get the estate settled and now she needs to determine the future of her estate. In other words, when something happens to her, which of her children will be the Executor of her estate?
It’s a lot easier to make decisions for your Executor than to put them in the position of trying to read your mind. If you or someone you know is in or could be in this situation, here are a few things for you to be thinking about:
- Make sure your Last Will and Testament is updated. By doing this, you can make sure that your most recent wishes and ideas have been put into a legal document, which will give your Executor and the attorneys a better idea of the path on which they need to proceed
- Talk with your kids or the others you might consider to be an Executor. This should be a deep conversation; not necessarily about death and dying, but about whether they can handle the burden of being an Executor.
- Talk with your attorneys about your wishes for the estate. They can help guide you and can lend anecdotal conversations to the mix when your kids are left without you
- Make sure that your kids understand that a search for an Executor isn’t a competition. Your legacy will live through each of them, and they should have an understanding that this was never about who Mom or Dad liked better
- Many times, Executors end up spending a lot of time and effort, for which they are compensated…but still, a lot of time and effort. Is there one person you would trust with this simply because they have the time, will put in the effort, and have a clear understanding of what your desires are?
These are just five ideas I have regarding this tough situation. Having watched it play out a number of times, I recommend that you have a Durable Medical Power of Attorney well before hand. While some financial advisors may try to keep you only within their sphere of influence, my approach is to make sure that your attorney, tax professional, financial advisor and family members are all on the same page. By doing this, you will know that you are doing your best to not only preserve your legacy, but also preserve the relationships of those you leave behind.