Effective estate planning requires making informed decisions, and usually some tough choices. One of the more difficult choices for many people is who to name as executor. Family members – particularly adult children – are often tapped for the position, but not always.
When adult children are not named executor, they may feel dejected, seeing it as their responsibility to care for their parent’s estate. In some cases, multiple children may even squabble over who deserved the honor. So, no matter whom you choose as executor, it’s wise to initiate a conversation to explain why to your adult children.
Here are some tips on how to broach the subject of your executor choice.
Don’t Wait to Explain Your Decision
Many estate planning family feuds come from one or more family members feeling blindsided by a decision made by the estate owner. Even though bringing up your estate plan may be difficult, having the conversations now can alleviate a lot of stress on your loved ones in the future.
Be Clear About the Expectations of the Role of Executor
When family members learn whom you chose to act as the executor of your will, they may perceive your not choosing them as a slight. Explaining what the role of executor entails may provide some clarity around your decision. Being an executor comes with a number of responsibilities, so your children may realize they would not be up to the task.
Focus the Conversation
Keep the conversation focused on the roles each family member will play in the estate settlement process. You don’t have to address your entire estate plan in one conversation. In fact, it may be easier to have multiple discussions so everyone has time to think and come prepared with any questions.
Keep Communication Lines Open
After the initial conversation, some family members may need time to digest the information. Allow your family the time to ask questions – and do your best to come prepared with answers ahead of time.
Keep in mind every situation is different, and what works for some families may not work for all. But, opening the lines of communication is a very important step in the estate planning process.
One way to help limit the emotional impact of not choosing a child as executor is by naming an independent third party organization to handle your estate’s executor duties. An estate planning specialist from Fifth Third Bank can act as executor to alleviate stress for your family during the estate settlement process.