When you execute your estate plan, you will nominate people close to you to take care of the following:
- Making financial decisions while you are incapacitated
- Making healthcare decisions while you are incapacitated
- Paying taxes and debts upon your death
- Distributing property according to your will and/or trust
- Taking control of and protecting trust property
- Holding funds in trust for your beneficiaries
- Defending lawsuits against your estate or liens on your property
- Planning your funeral ceremony and disposition of your remains
These are serious responsibilities which require time and effort on the part of the person you nominate. Particularly with regard to financial agents and executor/trustees, the person you nominate must be someone you inherently trust not only to follow your wishes but also to make sound financial decisions.
So what do you do when you know your family will disagree on these matters? What do you do if you have two similarly competent adult children who will disagree on every issue? What if you don’t trust anyone in your family to take care of the administration of your estate?
First and foremost: make your plan. Be as specific as possible in making your intent clear in your estate planning documents. If there is a particular person you do not want to make decisions, say so. If one person should have absolute authority, say so. Seriously consider nominating a trust protector if you are concerned about the ability of your trustee to follow the terms of the trust without being manipulated by a beneficiary. Consider nominating one family member to handle financial affairs and another to handle healthcare affairs so that neither feels slighted. If you aren’t comfortable with any of your loved ones acting on your behalf, consider nominating a professional fiduciary to act as trustee. Finally, if you are comfortable doing so, discuss your estate plan with your family and your nominated executor/trustee, including why you nominated certain individuals over others.
It isn’t possible to make everyone happy, but with an experienced attorney and thorough estate plan, you may be able to leave a legacy of family unity and open communication to your loved ones.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Brittany Britton is licensed to practice law in the state of California only.