A common estate administration mistake occurs when family members tell a loved one that they have been named under their estate plan but no further action takes place. Being selected as a family member’s agent is a huge responsibility and can be overwhelming, but you can avoid unnecessary stress by discussing specific terms of that family member’s estate. Open communication between a family member and their agent can provide detailed wishes that the agent can follow and eliminate any uncertainties that the agent might have. Additional conversations, beyond simply informing a family member that they have been designated as an agent, can be incredibly helpful to ensure that the agent is successful in their role and that the deceased’s wishes are carried out properly.

Not sure which questions to ask about a loved one’s estate plan? We have provided a list below to guide you through the communication process:

1- Where are their original documents located and how can you access them if needed?

2- Where are their accounts and assets located?

3- How do they wish for their assets to be distributed if discretionary distributions are allowed?

4- How would they like their child(ren) to be raised? (Visit our other blog post for more information regarding this decision.)

5- Do they have specific healthcare wishes regarding their own care?

6- Who are their key advisors? (Most often these will include your Attorney, Financial Advisor and CPA)

Generally, the communication process can take different forms. Some families feel more comfortable communicating with one another in person, while others prefer personal writings to their agents. Regardless of a family member’s preferred communication style, additional discussion is incredibly important to ensure an efficient administration. Unfortunately, family members do not create a manual to assist an agent on their loved one’s estate activities and how to make discretionary decisions about assets, but luckily, engaging with an estate administration expert can provide clarity during the administration process.