With the end in mind
The COVID-19 pandemic not only has changed the way we live, it also has changed the way we think about our future.
Now more than ever, people are having conversations about the unexpected life events. That includes conversations about what happens if they become incapacitated and their distribution of wealth upon death.
You might be among the 42% who have drawn up and tucked away an estate plan, but maybe you haven't reviewed it in years. Or maybe you haven't even considered an estate plan until recently, and the current environment is nudging you to draw one up with the help of an attorney.
A plan is not enough, however. You will need a fiduciary to administer your plan if you become incapacitated or once you pass away. While some families choose a family member, you may want to consider a corporate fiduciary. Here are four reasons to partner with a corporate fiduciary:
1. Save time
If you have a plumbing problem in your house, you could do the work yourself. But if you lack the skill or expertise, it likely will take you time and frustration as you make multiple trips to Home Depot simply to find the right size of pipe.
It's the same with administering your estate plan.
While family members are often named as trustee or executor, they often lack the knowledge and experience to carry out the duties. That can translate into frustration and a loss of time.
A corporate fiduciary jumps in to help you with an array of time-consuming details: locating important governing documents, discussing funeral arrangements, gathering assets, determining if probate is necessary, filing the will, notifying beneficiaries and applying for a federal taxpayer identification number.
The best trustee is honest, careful, patient, well-organized and has the experience and extra time to devote to the role.
2. Save money
It's tempting to try to save money by administering the plan yourself. A corporate fiduciary, however, performs executor duties as a full-time profession, thus eliminating potential errors, delay and consequent costs. If your needs are varied and complex, you will have to hire attorneys, accountants and financial advisers. A corporate fiduciary can leverage its resources to provide you experience to help reduce additional costs.
3. Ensure family peace
We've all heard nightmares of families divided when an estate is divvied up. Assigning a family member to administer the estate can create or intensify strife among surviving family members. Speculation can creep in about whether the assigned fiduciary is doing their job well and with everyone's best interest in mind.
A corporate fiduciary is much like a referee, who is impartial and objective, reducing family conflict by distributing wealth in accordance with your wishes.
4. Rest peacefully
In a world roiling with change, you want to control what you can before you lose the ability to do so.
A corporate fiduciary takes over the estate tasks and responsibilities that often weigh down individuals and families wading through an already difficult time of transition.
It tells your family they will always be your top priority.
• Shannon L. Stevens is trust and estate services director at Trust Company of Illinois.