At first glance you might think that estate planning is a simple process. After all, you only need to decide where your assets will go upon your passing, then devise legal documents indicating your wishes. This very basic assumption is correct to a certain extent, but estate planning is about so much more than merely picking and choosing beneficiaries. Estate planning is also about anticipating things that can go wrong and planning for ways to avoid unwanted and unexpected consequences.
One way your estate plan can blow up is by mismanagement by those who entrusted with decision-making power. An individual named by you to serve you under a power of attorney or healthcare directive, for example, may wind up making decisions that go against your interests. Likewise, a trustee will be responsible for making investment decisions with regard to trust property. If mismanaged, a trust’s funds can quickly be depleted, leaving your beneficiaries without the assets you intended for them to receive.
There are a number of other individuals who can play a vital role in the execution of your estate plan. One reason that these individuals can pose a threat to your wishes is because oftentimes, when they are not named in your estate planning documents, they are appointed by the court. This means that these individuals may not know much about you and your wishes. Also, many people who are named in estate planning documents to fill these vital positions are unqualified and don’t know the responsibility about to be thrust upon them until the time comes for them to take action.
All of these situations can be problematic. To avoid the issues associated with these scenarios, estate planners can not only have thorough plans that are specific as to who will fulfill which role, but also have conversations with those individuals to ensure that they are prepared, qualified, and comfortable taking one such big responsibilities. If you are concerned about these issues, or if you want guidance on how best to handle them, please consider consulting with a competent attorney.