The uncertainties of life necessitate flexibility in your estate plan. Some questions that may come into mind to clarify this point are: Do you know how much your assets will be worth upon your death? Do you know who will be around to make decisions on your behalf? Do you know if your family will get along? Where they will be living?
Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball to see into the future to answer all of these questions for you. Because of this reality, the hardest part about estate planning is planning for the now, as well as the future. It is important to understand how your estate planning can be flexible.
First, it is always important to name backups. Backup trustees, executors, financial power of attorney agents, and health care power of attorney agents. It is impossible to know whether or not the people we name as our primary decision maker will be willing and able when the time comes. IT is for this reason that you always need a backup.
Second, flexibility in the distribution of your assets can help your beneficiaries. Very specific distribution schemes that direct your trustee or executor to do very limited things with assets certainly serve a role, but it is important to remember that circumstances change, assets change value, and what once was a perfectly reasonable distribution, may not make sense given a change in circumstances. When planning, always think to the future and how to draft your provisions to be as flexible as possible.
Third, consider the use of a special co-trustee, or trust protector. This is a special role within a revocable living trust that allows an independent party to step in and make changes to the trust or settle disputes. The special co-trustee is available to help in all of those unforeseen circumstances.
IF you believe you need more flexibility in your estate plan, contact your estate planning attorney today.
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