FIND A LOCATION:
Find a Location
FIND A LOCATION
Call the Branch
Access online accounts
by Mary Locken
Post-death settlements can be emotionally trying, even for the closest-knit families. With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, I have seen first-hand what works and what doesn’t work when leaving assets to family members.
In general, if people are kept in the communication loop, there’s less intimidation, fear and suspicion. Planning and sharing those plans with family members really does diffuse conflicts.
1. Make sure you have estate-planning provisions in place that have some flexibility built into them so your fiduciary, power of attorney and trustee can handle situations as they unfold while maintaining your priorities and objectives.
2. Hire a professional to work with your estate. Asking a family member to serve as trustee is not a badge of honor. It’s more of a curse. Often other family members become suspicious or critical, and conflicts arise.
Naming a corporate fiduciary, such as Bell Bank Wealth Management, is a very cost-effective way to minimize conflict and ensure your wishes are carried out by a professional experienced at handling a wide variety of post-death settlement issues.
3. Share the general provisions with your family members. We often caution against sharing too many details, such as specific dollar amounts or the size of your investment account. But sharing the general provisions can help minimize surprises and conflict.
4. Include items of sentimental value in your estate plan. Sometimes division of these items can cause more conflict than division of financial assets. Planning who will receive what significantly minimizes arguments.
5. Avoid splitting a lake home or family-owned business among siblings. Parents often think lake property will help keep their children connected. In reality, it’s very difficult to divvy up the property’s use so everybody is happy over the course of the year.
Even if you set up funds to pay the property’s expenses, long-term joint ownership among siblings typically does not work and causes conflict no matter how well the siblings get along. It’s better to choose one person to inherit it, put a formula in place to determine who should inherit it or write a directive for it to be sold.
6. Review your estate plan every year or every couple of years to make sure the directives and provisions still match your desires.
Effectively planning your estate is one of the most important things you can do to leave a legacy for your family, both in passing on your assets and in protecting your family’s relationships with each other.
Call me at 701-451-3084 and I’ll put my experience to work in helping you make sure your estate plan carries out your wishes.
Mary Locken joined Bell in 2005 and has 27 years of experience. She went to college and law school at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D. Her specialties are estate planning, post-death settlement, trust and estate administration. Outside of work, Mary enjoys spending time with her sons, Joe and Nick, as well as reading, quilting and fostering dogs and cats.
Back to Advice Center
Investing and wealth management products are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee, may lose value, are not a deposit and are not insured by any federal government agency.