I need to update my estate plan but I’m having trouble – what can I do to make things easier?
Putting an estate plan in place, or updating an already existing one, can be emotionally draining. Many new clients consult with attorneys only after having procrastinated for years. But do not stress; there are ways to streamline the process. Here are some important things to consider:
First of all, it may be helpful to step back and think about all of the different people involved in your estate plan, and how they will react to being involved in it. While the estate plan may provide for a certain asset to be distributed to a certain person, it may not be in that person’s interest to receive it. So what can be done? Be mindful of the preferences of the people who will be receiving assets. If assets are distributed in such a way that takes into account the preferences of the recipients, this will reduce stress.
For those concerned about how family and friends will react to their plan, it may be advisable to consider having a conversation with them. Giving friends and family a context in which to understand your wishes and actions will help to clarify the stipulations of the documents you leave behind. This can make the transfer of assets significantly smoother, especially if certain recipients have acrimonious relationships, or if certain parties will not be receiving what they had expected.
After consulting with an experienced trust and estate attorney, it may be preferable to begin gifting assets during your lifetime, if you estate is greater than the current exemption. This makes the estate smaller and allows for a simpler process after death. It also allows the gifting party the pleasure of seeing their gifts received.
An experienced estate planning attorney can also advise you on how to integrate proposed gifts with the recipient’s tax situation. This can ensure that your beneficiaries receive the assets you intend them to have.