One common issue that arises when creating an estate plan is choosing which family members to name as agents or how to divide assets when you have favorite relatives.
When it comes to naming agents, you’ll want to consider a number of factors. For someone such as your health care agent, you might want to name a child who lives close enough to you to accompany you to medical appointments and who doesn’t need to worry about a time difference when communicating with your medical providers. Also, if any of your children works in the medical field, you may want to name them as health care agent because of their experience.
When naming who to handle financial assets, you’ll still want to consider their location, but you’ll also want to choose someone who is skilled at managing their own finances.
You’ll want to keep similar factors in mind for your personal representative and trustees, too.
It might be difficult to have talks with your family members about which agents you choose and why. The most important part, though, is to choose individuals who will make the best decisions on your behalf and on behalf of your beneficiaries after you have passed away.
Deciding how your assets will be divided may be even more difficult, especially if you have a favorite child, grandchild, or other family member who you would like to benefit more than the others. Resentment can arise when heirs are not treated equally. You may be able to minimize this by explaining to your relatives why you have set up your estate plan the way you have, and you can also call upon your estate planning attorney to act as a mediator when sharing this with family members. This is usually better than leaving them in the dark until you are no longer available to answer their questions. You might also opt to leave a separate writing with your Will that explains your intentions, and your estate planning attorney can help you in writing this out.
You may choose to benefit one relative over another for financial reasons, like if one works for a nonprofit as receives much less compensation than the other family members. Or you may wish to leave more of your assets to a family member who really is just your favorite, and how your family members react may not concern you since you will be gone. However, it may be best to treat everyone equally in spite of your feelings in order to avoid family conflict.
Balancing family dynamics in estate planning is not easy, and there often isn’t a right or wrong answer for these types of decisions. Consulting an experienced attorney can help you figure out what will benefit you and your family most when it comes to these types of issues.
For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.