Educating the Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries of Your Estate Plan

December 15, 2016

Authored by:  Olivia R. Holcombe-Volke – Associate, olivia@elvilleassociates.com, 443-393-7696

A common source of concern for estate planning clients is the disconnect between an estate plan and the people involved in its actual implementation.  Clients almost always ask “how much of this should I share with my medical agent/financial attorney-in-fact/personal representative/trustee/beneficiaries?”  The fact is, informing those who will be responsible for executing the plan is vital to ensuring that the plan succeeds.  The estate plan itself will not be implemented in a vacuum, and cannot, therefore, be created in a vacuum.

This does not mean that the medical agent/financial attorney-in-fact/personal representative/trustee/beneficiaries need to know every minute detail, particularly with regard to dollar amounts.  There is middle ground between sharing nothing and sharing everything with the players who are responsible for executing an estate plan.  At a minimum, it is important for those named in the estate planning documents to know that 1) a plan exists, 2) they are named in it in some capacity, and 3) there are professionals involved to whom they can turn for help.  These simple highlights will go a long way toward avoiding plan failure.  The amount of further detail that is shared is ultimately up to the estate planning client, and depends on the nuances of his or her particular plan.

The education of one’s named medical agent/financial attorney-in-fact/personal representative/trustee/beneficiaries is an important part of one’s estate plan.  If a family meeting or other form of education is not proactively offered by one’s estate planning attorney, it is something well worth requesting.