Estate planning: the In Case of Emergency kickoff
March 23, 2015
*ICE: In case of emergency
This series jumps off of Item 1 on my massive list of things to do in case of Bad Times.
There are several sections of things to do and decisions to make so I thought I’d lay them out here as we tackle them, in case it’s helpful to anyone who hasn’t yet taken the plunge.
The first thing I’ve done is considered who would be handling our estate should both PiC and I be out of the picture. We are, of course, the primary executors and then we’d need trustworthy people to take care of things in our absence.
This is first because I want to work closely with the executors when each part of our arrangements are made. It’s a lot of stuff so this will help familiarize them without overwhelming them if the time comes… Suddenly.
I’ve asked two trusted family friends to serve as co-executors of our estate, the vasty mini empire that it is, and will be keeping them apprised of progress as we put together the estate plan.
One of the two drily reminded me that I function in a very different PF sphere than most of my offline friends. He doubted that most of our friends and acquaintances had any working knowledge of estate planning and what it means to be an executor. It’s true, I forget that having an entire estate plan together at this age is probably not terribly common, but I’m prepared to make it as cut and dried as possible in case the need should ever arise for it to be put into action.
The important factors that came into play here: they are close friends who have demonstrated a sufficient working knowledge of managing money and wealth, they would not be asked to take on any other estate and family-related affairs other than making the arrangements as they are laid out. They will be paid a percentage of the estate for their troubles and would not otherwise have any claim to any of the estate so there’s no incentive or way to manipulate the estate to put more money in their pocket.
I didn’t want the same people who might become LB’s guardians to serve as executor of the estate, that feels like a conflict of interest. While we’d only be asking them to serve in that capacity because we trust them, I think it’s important to remember that things can always change and I’d like a third party to be looking out for LB’s interests in addition to the caregivers. It’d be terrible if we set aside a trust for LB to pay for long term expenses and eventually college, only to find that the caregiver, having access to the trust and rights to disburse funds at will, had become so pressed for money they raided the trust even with the best of intentions. Or deprived LB in some other way because the influence of having ready access to the estate was too much.
I’m not risking that.
Alternatively, we could choose to have an attorney serve as executor, that person would have fiduciary responsibility and also be an objective third party, but we haven’t worked with any attorney enough to trust him or her with this role.
This was one of the easier decisions because there aren’t many people I would trust with this level of responsibility, and who I would be willing to ask to take on this work. There are a few but not many. I might do a third backup just in case, but I think having two executors in place after PiC and me is a good start.