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  • ruthpgeorge

Assets and Relationships in Estate Planning and Administration

You've heard me talk about "good" or "basic" estate planning, that is, having at least a simple Will in place, accompanied by a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy.

Much of the motivation behind having that Will in place is assets - how you can pass on your house and other investments and cherished items to others. Yet, even with a Will, there can be difficulties causing problems in the probate process.

Which brings me to an important point that we must remember that estate planning is not just about the assets themselves but how those assets are to be managed and handled as this AFFECTS RELATIONSHIPS. This is a main theme in estate planning that is frequently overlooked - the fallout of which can become very evident during probate and estate administration.

As a starting point, ask yourself: How will the plans you create affect relationships that you care about? What does that mean for HOW your assets will be managed and handled, both during your life, and upon your passing?

It’s one way I think of “better planning” - where you move beyond the basic estate planning documents and put greater care into these kinds of concerns.

As an example, think of a second-marriage situation where a person sets up a "basic" Will granting the surviving spouse the right to live in the residential home upon his/her passing with his/her own child (a step-child to the spouse) as the Executor. Upon the person’s passing, the surviving spouse and stepchild, as Executor, are at odds with each other about a whole host of issues that undoubtedly come to play. The scenario plays out with lawyers on each side, “pointing fingers” and further damaging of relationships. By putting the house into a "better" Lifetime Trust, a hand-picked and trusted successor trustee could immediately handle management of the home upon the person's inability to do so during life or upon passing. The trust agreement could provide instructions for the trustee to follow. There could then be immediate protection of the asset, including any personal property within the home that could cause relationship problems.

It is certainly the case that no amount of planning can mitigate or prevent all possible relationship problems. That leads to a second important theme in estate planning - imperfection. There can be room for some imperfection, but THE MAIN POINTS should be there.

So, in thinking of those themes, what are YOUR MAIN POINTS to address in your estate planning?

How will you address your MAIN POINTS in terms of asset management, during your life and upon your passing? How will this help those you care about?

How can you leap to "better planning" with respect to your assets and those you care about? There are so many opportunities!

Need to brainstorm? Need a bit of a spark? Please reach out! We can have coffee or a Zoom meeting!

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