As a layperson, you are simply not going to understand every aspect of the estate planning process. One factor that people often overlook is the estate administration component, and we will look at an important facet in this post.
When you plan your estate, you have to record your final wishes in a will or some type of trust. At the same time, you should also consider the process that will unfold after your passing, because there is a human element.
If you use a will as the foundation of your estate plan, you would name an executor in the document. This person would act as the estate administrator.
This is not a purely ceremonial role that you bestow upon someone that you love and/or respect. The executor should be a person with no conflicts of interest that is completely trustworthy and fully capable of handling somewhat complicated legal, procedural, administrative, and financial matters.
It should be noted that there are professional fiduciaries that offer estate administration services. This can be an option if you do not know anyone that would be suitable.
Under the laws of the state of Connecticut, the executor would not be allowed to act independently without any court involvement. He or she would admit the will to probate, and the probate court would determine the validity of the will and provide supervision going forward.
The executor would have a very difficult time administering the estate with no hand to mouth instructions with regard to important, relevant details aside from the way that the asset should be distributed. You can provide a road map if you take the time to write out a letter of final instructions.
There are no particular rules with regard to what the letter must contain, because it is not legally binding. This being stated, there are certain pieces of information that any estate administrator would need to be able to do the job effectively. If you think about it yourself, you would be able to create a list of the important data that should be passed along.
This being stated, there is a basic framework. First, you should provide contact information for all the people that should be informed about your death. Personal contacts like old friends, extended family members, former business associates, and the like would be part of this equation.
Professionals that should be contacted would include your attorney, the accountant that handles your taxes, insurance agents, real estate professionals, bankers, brokers, etc.
The location of important documents and keys to lock boxes, safe-deposit boxes, vehicles, and buildings should be conveyed to the executor. Most people conduct a lot of business online, so you should provide the appropriate usernames and passwords.
Speaking of the virtual environment, if you are like most people, you have social media accounts, and you may have blogs and/or websites. In your letter of final instructions, you can communicate your preferences with regard to the way that you want this digital property handled after you are gone.
These are a few things to think about, but as we have stated, the components that should be included in a letter of final instructions are for the most part self-evident.
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