Jul 24, 2011

Choosing a Third Party PR or Trustee can eliminate family battles

My wife is a big fan of historical dramas. She saw every episode of The Tudors. The Borgias, too. As I watched with her, it struck me that at their heart, these are tales of family members fighting to pass on or receive family inheritances, be they political, financial or social. (There were no estate planning attorneys around in those days, I guess.)

Most families' troubles pale in comparison to the deadly intrigues of the Tudors and Borgias. But that's cold comfort for a person whose children don't get along and who is worried about how to handle his estate planning If your adult sons can't sit together peacefully at a holiday get-together, there's little reason to expect your passing will unite them. In fact, the stress of a parent's passing  tends to have the opposite effect.

In my experience, more and  more seniors are realizing the value of designating in their Will a third-party Personal Representative, or designating in their Trust a third-party Successor Trustee. The third party can be a bank, a trust company, a lawyer, an accountant, or a trusted party like a longtime family friend. That individual or party will do what is required after your passing, objectively and above any family fray that may ensue. If you have children who do not get along particularly well, they will not have to deal with one another on these delicate matters, but with the third party. Consider the third party like a referee in a boxing ring. He knows the rules, and runs the match.

In fact, a third party personal representatives or trustee can be useful in any family situation you think has the potential to get ugly. An example is if you are in a second marriage and have an inkling that your spouse and/or your children from a prior marriage may not be happy about your dispositions.

Feel free to contact my office to schedule a consultation to discuss how to handle these delicate situations. Our estate planning/elder law attorneys have assisted many families perplexed over these issues, and can advise you. As an Accredited Investment Fiduciary as well as an Elder Law Attorney, I too can serve as a Successor Trustee or Personal Representative.   

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