Help Your Executor NOW, Before You Die – 6 Essential To-Dos
Assuming you have set up a will and maybe a trust here are 5 other essential things to do NOW to help your executor or successor trustee deal with your instructions and your family’s emotional state after your death or incapacitation.
Explain the duties of being your executor or successor trustee to the family member you chose.
Have multiple discussions to make sure this person is willing to take on the duties and has the needed social and financial skills to handle those duties.
Meet with your estate planning professionals together with your executor or successor trustee.
Go over your current plan then once it is complete, re-visit the plan every few years together – to deal with changes in the law and changes in each of your circumstances.
The person who set up your legal documents should have a good idea of your intentions. Bringing your executor together with your adviser and letting them walk through the plan with you there can clear up any mis-conceptions and point out any needed changes.
Introduce your executor or successor trustee to your other advisers.
A face to face meeting with each adviser you use (such as your accountant, your financial adviser, your religious adviser and etc) can help your executor or trustee feel more comfortable utilizing them to understand what to do based on your expectations when setting up the estate transfer plan.
Make your health care choices known to all.
Most estate planners recommend a health care directive (or living will) to spell out what medical treatment you do or don’t want at end of life time. Some recommend assigning a health care decision maker – for when you are not able to make your own decisions.
My spouse, for instance, had a Father with Alzheimer’s and was cared for in a facility for a couple of years. My spouse is adamantly opposed to being put in a ‘home’ where he can’t get outside or feel useful.
But don’t just create the document, make sure you talk about what you want done with all family members. Mom did not want to have her life extended artifically with machines. She let both of us know and gave us both a copy of her directive. When she went into a coma and had multiple organ failure, we were able to make that awful decision to pull life support – though it was difficult and painful to do so – because she had let us know that she wanted it to happen.
Talk to your heirs (or someone who thinks they might be your heir) to explain your estate plan
Meet with them individually, then pull your executor into the meeting as well. Let them know why you want certain members to get certain things or why you want to give all your money to charity, or whatever you are doing.
Give your precious THINGS away now before you die.
If you can’t or don’t want to do so now, at least make a list of what you want to go to each person.
Treasured THINGS can cause more after death fights than money does. A personal keepsake helps us remember the deceased person vividly. Even a coffee cup, once loved and used daily by you, can hold meaning for one of your kids or grandkids.
Although there is much more you could do to ensure your final wishes are carried out, these 6 are essential if you want to help facilitate a smooth, productive and non-disruptive estate transfer.
What other tasks do you think are essential? Have you done them?