When you plan your estate, you express your final wishes with regard to the way you want your assets to be distributed after you are gone.
This can seem like the long and short of it, but there is a human element. Someone has to complete the administration tasks to bring your wishes to fruition, and you should place an emphasis on this part of the equation.
The Role of the Executor
If you use a will as your asset transfer vehicle, you would name an executor in the document to act as the hands-on administrator. The executor will be required to admit the will to probate, and the court would supervise while the estate is being administered.
There are legal steps that must be followed, so the executor must be capable of understanding procedural guidelines. An executor must also be well-equipped to handle all the administrative duties that must be completed.
You should be very discerning when you are designating an executor in your will. Longevity should be taken into consideration, and depending on the dynamic, you may want to weigh potential conflicts of interest.
Of course, you should make sure that the person that you would like to name is willing to accept the role. There is a certain degree of personal liability, and this can be a time-consuming job in some cases, so it is a pretty big ask.
When you are designating the executor, you should name an alternate to step into the role if the first choice is incapable of fulfilling the responsibility after your passing for one reason or another.
Living Trust Trustee
The most popular alternative to a simple will is the revocable living trust. You would act as the trustee while you are living if you establish this type of trust, so you would not relinquish control of the assets.
In the trust declaration, you would name a successor to assume the role you are gone. This can be an individual that you know personally, or you could alternately use a professional fiduciary.
One major difference between a living trust and a will is the fact that the trust can remain intact for an extended period of time. This is appealing if you want to provide limited incremental distributions until the beneficiary reaches a certain age.
Many people will combine the trust’s earnings with portions of the principal to equal a certain monthly distribution amount. A trust company or another qualified professional could be the best choice if the trust is well-funded and it is going to remain intact for a number of years.
Letter of Last Instruction
After you have decided on an administrator, you have to make a list of the things they will need to know, and it can be passed along in a letter of last instruction.
To provide a basic overview, you would share the contact information for people that should be informed about your passing. This can be personal connections and professionals that would have a direct role in the process, like your accountant, insurance agent, and attorney.
The location of relevant documents, keys, and property would be shared along with login information for online accounts. If you have made final arrangements in advance, you would want to make that information available when you are creating the letter.
We Are Here to Help!
When you work with an attorney from our firm to develop your estate plan, we will gain an understanding of your situation and recommend an approach that is custom crafted to suit your needs.
After the plan has been established, we will be well-positioned to assist your administrator after your passing if they need guidance.
If you are ready to get started, you can schedule a consultation at our estate planning office in El Segundo if you call us at 310-337-7696. You can alternately use our contact form to send us a message, and if you reach out in this manner, you will receive a prompt response.