You’re planning a client’s estate. You’ve identified the assets and tax issues and planned accordingly. Most importantly, your client has provided clear instructions on her wishes for the distribution of her estate. You’ve prepared her will and it’s ready for execution. It’s taken some time to get things right, but it’s a job well done.
Or is it?
What about your client’s family – have they been kept in the loop about what the plans are? Your client undoubtedly has the best of intentions in distributing her estate, but even the best of intentions can be misunderstood.
In my experience, a successful estate plan is no longer solely developed from the top down; it also involves planning from the bottom up. Family members are far less likely to experience emotional distress or family discord – or challenge a will – if they have been given an explanation of the reasons for the distribution of property and have had a chance to express their opinions about that distribution.
This quick video on the Ontario Security Commission’s Get Smarter About Money website brings the point home well.
If you have clients currently in the estate planning process, have them build in some time for a family discussion. It could save a lot of heartache and litigation down the road.
Thanks for reading,