After all of the appropriate documents are signed and you let out a sigh of relief, one additional aspect of estate planning is communicating your ideas and plans to loved ones.
Rather than taking the stance of "they'll figure it all out when it's time," it can be more helpful to go over what you want to have done with those who will be involved.
This can be difficult to do, but discussing your medical and financial power of attorney documents, your funeral planning, and your choices for medical care can help your family understand what you want and why. It is appropriate to provide originals or copies of the documents. Keeping it all "top secret" can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts later on.
Also, choosing to explain the content of your will or revocable trust can be beneficial, especially to those who will serve as your executor(s) or successor trustee(s). They may have questions that allow you to clear up your intent.
It is helpful to discuss what assets will be a part of your estate to be sure any specific directions you want to give are passed on.
Asking these individuals you communicate with to keep your plans confidential, because the documents can be changed, is fine to do.
Your charitable beneficiaries will definitely appreciate your letting them know of the future gifts you have planned, and this will give them the opportunity to express their gratitude to you.
To make things easier later, you should have a list of where important papers, including deeds, checkbooks, financial account statements, tax returns, and the like, are located. Adding your computer and website passwords and location of keys can help then.
Providing personal insights about your plans can show others that you have chosen wisely, and they can understand your priorities better.
Knowing that your plans will be honored can provide peace of mind to you.
That's good planning.
Deb Miller is the senior director of planned giving for the West Virginia University Foundation.