Commonly in meetings with our clients, we will pose the question “who is going to be the one administering your estate plan?” The correct answer, is simply, not you. A bit morbid to think about, yes, but it is easy to lose sight of the simple fact that you will not be around to administer your own estate plan. One can have the perfect plan, but at the end of the day, the reality is: you’re not going to be around to take care of all of the intricacies of administering it.
Those who would say the role of an estate planning attorney is to help the family of a client through the process, are absolutely correct, however only partially so. While, of course, we are there for client’s families, walking them through each step, there is a noticeable difference between clients who take advantage of our family meetings, vs. those who do not. A Family Care Meeting™ is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: all of those who will need to administer your plan and care for your family are involved in your estate plan, in one room, talking about the planning you’ve been doing, while you’re still around to explain it all. While not always a common practice in estate planning, we have found that this small step in the process results in a logistically smoother trust administration process, as well as serving as a point of comfort to many families. There is nothing more disorienting than having to jump into administering an estate that one has no knowledge of, on top of the already difficult grieving process.
There is something invaluable about your loved ones hearing from you, personally, exactly what each of their roles are. Not to mention, it seems to hold a lot more power coming from the client themselves, than from an attorney that their family may not be familiar with. And along those lines, having a client’s family meet us and become familiar with our processes before they need to, make the entire process a lot more comfortable for them.
Those who worry about maintaining an appropriate level of confidentiality, such as not disclosing assets or the value of the estate in meetings such as this one need not to. At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we make sure that we don’t discuss anything the clients don’t feel comfortable disclosing to the people who are a part of their plan. We always go over the basic functions, not going into details or values, but more to speak about the overall tenor of the plan, and the client’s wishes for those administering it. We view this meeting with such importance, that it is already built into our ongoing client care program. Each client of ours, we encourage to take advantage of this meeting whenever they feel it is necessary and appropriate.