Estate Planning Guidelines are questions and issues which should be well thought-out and considered prior to meeting with your estate planning attorney. When putting together an estate plan, you may want to have conversations with individuals whom you are considering naming as executors, trustees and, in particular, guardians of minor children.
Here are some estate planning issues for consideration:
Executor – Will: Consider who will serve as the initial executor, if not your spouse, and who will serve as successor executor. If nominating individuals in your peer group, consider also naming as successors, individuals of a younger generation.
Trustee – if you intend to serve as the initial trustee in a “living trust,” then you must nominate a successor trustee, usually a spouse, or another individual. Another important consideration when choosing a successor trustee is what are the general duties of a trustee. You may also consider naming a corporate fidiciary as successor trustee. In doing so, you should consider whether the trust assets are of an appropriate value which would enable a corporate fidiciary to accept the appointment, keeping in mind that most larger banks will not accept a trust valued under $1 million dollars.
Trustee of Children’s or Family Trust: For trusts created after the deaths of both parents, you again must nominate an initial trustee and successor trustees. If you are nominating a family member, keep in mind the pressures that may be exerted on the trustee by the beneficiaries, and consider the family dynamics that may result.
Guardian for Minor Children: Again, not the most pleasant issue to confront, but a necessary one. Careful consideration should be given to the individuals chosen to assume parenting of minor children, in the event of the death of both parents. Conversations should be had with prospective guardians, to ensure not only their willingness to act, but also their ability to do so. Similar conversations should take place with prospective successor guardians, and it is recommended that all nominees are aware of the other individuals who you intend to name in order to provide for the best possible circumstances in the event of the need for one or more to act. If it is your strong desire that sibilings be raised together, stress this fact in these conversations.
When counseling individuals and couples for purposes of estate planning, it is helpful to stress the impact of a lack of planning. If one is to envision the worst case scenario, getting the initial estate plan in place is much less traumatic and emotional .