Updated: Feb 17
I advise clients to review their estate documents every other year to confirm the executor, trustee, and agents for their will, trust, and powers of attorney for healthcare and property.
This spring, I completed this exercise for my family and documented the experience and discoveries in a Financial Housekeeping Series.
I have made a commitment to get this completed by the end of June 2022. I find if I don’t set goals with dates for administrative issues like this, they tend to fall to the bottom of my list.
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A revocable living trust is a written document that determines how your assets will be handled after you die. Assets can include real estate, valuable possessions, bank accounts and investments. The person who creates a trust is the trust-maker while the person who will manage the trust when you no longer can is known as the trustee.
I keep my assets in an revocable living trust because it simplifies my estate and avoids the expense and probate time in the State of Illinois.
Imagine what it would be like for your children or grandchildren to have their support decisions made by a suited corporate bureaucrat instead of your thoughtful lifelong friend who has children of his own and shares your core values about hard work and integrity.
Why Reviewing Your Named Trustee Occasionally is Important?
Your Trustee is the person you rely upon to manage your affairs including financial matters and the disposition of real estate and other assets once you have passed away. This may include taking care of extended family members’ needs or providing for philanthropic endeavors. In many cases Trust documents once prepared go in a drawer and are not looked at until they are truly needed. Imagine what it would be like for your children or grandchildren to have their support decisions made by a suited corporate bureaucrat instead of your thoughtful lifelong friend who has children of his own and shares your core values about hard work and integrity. If your friend is your named Trustee, and something were to happen that would impair his ability to serve in that capacity, it is important that you take the time to identify a new Trustee rather than automatically defaulting to a corporate option.
When I Reviewed My Trustees
I realized that my primary trustee had some life changes which may have prevented her from serving. And, my backup trustee had passed away. I knew I needed to address this and it was in the back of my mind. However, I hadn’t dealt with it since I didn’t want to take time and sit down to think about who else would be a good candidate.
After discussions with my partner, Jerome, as well as several friends, I selected revised individuals as primary and backup trustees and executors. In my new documents I decided to name three folks in each role to reduce the likelihood of needing to make changes in the future. Many folks will name a bank as successor trustee and an attorney as executor once they have exhausted their list of individuals.
What I Discovered About Powers of Attorney
I learned that my friend who passed away was named as my backup agent for property power of attorney. I decided to name my partner to serve as my primary power of attorney for property and identified two folks to serve as backup successor agents. I also reviewed my agents for healthcare power of attorney and affirmed they were up to date.
Now that I have my revised list of trustee, executor, and agents for property power of attorney, I plan to pass this information to my attorney and have her update my documents. I have made a commitment to get this completed by the end of June 2022. I find if I don’t set goals with dates for administrative issues like this, they tend to fall to the bottom of my list. I would rather be working out in the garden or out skiing.
Do you have someone to hold you accountable to complete a review of your estate plan?
Are you comfortable with your progress towards helping future generations meet their financial goals? If you have more than $2 million saved and need help from a wealth manager, the Peak Wealth Planning team can assist.
Peak Wealth Planning specializes in helping high-net worth individuals and families plan for the future.
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About the Author
Peter Newman is a Chartered Financial Advisor (CFA) and president of Peak Wealth Planning. He works with individuals nationwide that have accumulated wealth through company stock, ESOP shares, real estate, or running a business. Peter applies his unique background to help clients achieve their specific goals and enjoy peace of mind.
Peak Wealth Planning provides concierge services to meet your wealth management needs. Services include: financial planning, investment management, esop diversification, retirement income, insurance, and estate planning advice. Peak Wealth Planning is a fee-based financial advisor based in Champaign, Illinois, and Fraser, Colorado.