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Saturday, November 8, 2014

The holidays might be the right time to help parents fill in a planning workbook

It seems so early to be hearing Christmas music in the stores and seeing Christmas movies on TV, but the preparation for the season is certainly gearing up. People are booking flights to spend time with family over the holidays, and mailing packages for nieces and nephews and grandkids to find under the tree.

If you have been looking for a chance to talk about estate planning with your parents, the holidays might just be the right time. Everyone is together so nobody has to make a special trip out for the discussion. There is usually some unallocated down time between family meals, church services, skating parties, and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Family relationships are top of mind. This might be your best opportunity to raise a serious topic without making it appear alarming or concerning to your family members.

But how do you raise the topic of estate planning with your parents? Consider using my planning workbook called For My Family, With Love. You could give a copy to your parents while you're all gathered for a coffee or meal. It doesn't have to be a scary idea if you present it as something they can work on as a long-term project. If the idea seems overwhelming or they seem reluctant, you could offer to spend some time with them completing the workbook after the holidays when things slow down.

Having their legal and financial affairs in order is the greatest gift any parents can leave behind for their kids. It allows the kids to stay together as a family without legal disputes to drive them apart. In addition to a will, a parent can use this workbook to leave information that the kids will need to make sure that the loss of a loved one isn't any harder than it has to be.


5 comments:

  1. Lynne,
    It is my understanding executor fees ranged from 1% to 5% of the total value of the estate, based on the complexity of the work required. I just received a summary which includes executor's compensation to be "2.5% receipts and 2.5% disbursements," calculated to equal 5% of the total estate. In addition, the estate is being charged legal fees to be paid to the executor's attorney for "on account of fees and disbursements." I don't agree with this. What should I do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The executor in your case is charging on the high end of the scale, and I think you're wondering whether some of the charges are being duplicated on the lawyer's bill.

      The disbursements paid by the lawyer and the disbursements paid by the executor should not be the same disbursements. Read the lawyer's bill carefully to see what his or her disbursements were. They should include things like a court fee for filing probate, a fee at the land titles office for a search and/or registration, and most likely bits and pieces such as couriers and faxes. In other words, the lawyer's bill should only include payouts for things that were necessary to take care of legal matters.

      On the other hand, the disbursements paid by the executor should include such things as funeral costs, utility bills for the deceased's home, amounts paid to settle debts such as credit cards, and possibly out-of-pocket costs for the executor such as parking or mileage.

      It's alright for you to ask the executor for more detail. You are probably being asked to sign a release saying you approve of what has been done on the estate, and it's pretty hard to know if you approve or not if you don't have all the facts.

      Lynne

      Delete
  2. Who do I ask. Should I ask the attorney or the executor? The statement came from the attorney, and it appears he is in a rush because he states if the release is not returned in a reasonable time, it will result in the estate incurring more court costs and legal fees as the accounts will have to be passed. What is a reasonable time frame? I want to feel comfortable before I sign.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ask the executor. The accounts will only have to be passed in the courts if there is just no chance of the beneficiary giving approval. If you are clear that you are not refusing to sign but are only trying to understand the accounts fully, they should be motivated to provide the answers.

      Lynne

      Delete

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