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SENIOR ADVOCATE

By Liza Horvath

 

Holiday Opportunities to Introduce Family to Advisors

 

The holidays are here – do you know where your advisor is? What an odd question! Are you supposed to invite your lawyer, accountant or trustee to Thanksgiving dinner? Well, not necessarily, but having the family together for the holidays provides a unique opportunity – one that you may not have considered.

 

In the past, it was assumed that children would step in to administer our estates or act as trustee when we pass away. Unfortunately, aside from the fact that children have busy lives of their own, history – not to mention all the court litigation – has shown that having one child act as trustee may set up a dynamic between siblings that most families can do without. If you, like so many parents, have decided to name a professional to act as our executor or trustee, your successor trustee is now a part of your team of advisors which includes your lawyer, accountant, money managers and others. This team is responsible to you during your lifetime but, on your death, the team will be working with your children. So, while the “kids” are here for the holidays – maybe an introduction to one or more of your advisors is appropriate.   

 

Consider it from the child’s point of view: you may have already let them know you are relieving them of the responsibility for managing your financial affairs when you are gone, but does that mean they are entirely without responsibility? What about information? Will they have the right to know what is going on in terms of your estate when your professionals step in? What can they expect? Finally, is it really best to have them meet your trustee and other advisors for the first time after you have passed away and in the midst of the grief and sorrow that will follow your death? The answer is, of course, no.

 

Good advisors will let clients know that meeting children or family – before it comes time to step in and “take control” – can be enormously helpful to everyone. Children will have a face with the name and a good advisor will also make sure that children feel comfortable contacting the advisor in the future with concerns or questions.

 

If you decide to introduce your family to one or more of your advisors, be sure the advisor understands the goal of the meeting and set clear ground rules for both your children and the advisor. Let your advisor know what you would like them to discuss and also anything you wish to keep private. If you are having the kids meet your legal counsel or accountant, these professionals will have you sign a release of information before the meeting and they will also, most likely, charge fees for the meeting. If you have children meet with your trustee, make sure the trustee reviews the administration process and helps them understand what communication and information they can expect to receive. The meetings can be very general – an overview of the steps or they can be very specific, “Johnny, you will be receiving your dad’s Model T and, Susie, you are getting our mom’s Glock handgun.”

  

The holidays are a great time to have the family together – consider expanding the opportunity to include a visit with one or more of your advisors. It may take the edge off a future meeting – if you know what I mean! Happy Thanksgiving!

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com

 


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