You can speak from beyond through your estate plan. Each Living Trust I draft includes a Statement of Intent. This trust section may carry little legal significance, but is often carefully crafted and reviewed by clients. Clients can share heartfelt thoughts, provide best wishes and guidance, or even a caution or a stern warning. These words are those of the client and they speak directly to others. These words resonate.
The Statement of Intent serves multiple purposes. If the Living Trust is ever challenged, provisions in the Statement of Intent may provide guidance to a court sitting in review or your future Trustees. Dear cousin Agnes could be left out of the Living Trust for good reason as the Grantors of the trust amply provided for Agnes during their lives. The Living Trust may be but a part of the entire estate plan with other trusts addressing distinct issues and assets which otherwise would be included in the Living Trust. Simple statements can assist those who must interpret or administer the trust in the future.
Perhaps even more significant is the ability to use the Statement of Intent as the opportunity to provide specific messages to loved ones or others left behind. Remind the beneficiaries that gifts have been left out of love and affection to make their lives easier or better. If there may be the possibility of strife, remind the beneficiaries that you want to ensure that there are no fights over mere material possessions. Or, like one of my clients, directly threaten the beneficiaries that if there are any such fights, the deceased will find a way to return to haunt them for the rest of their days!
The guidance can be as specific as the client desires. If education, military service or religious endeavors are of paramount importance, directly tell those left behind through this Statement of Intent. You can also counsel against certain activities or behaviors through this provision. I have found that once they understand its power, clients embrace using this Statement of Intent to keep their messages alive. If you would like assistance with your own Statement of Intent as part of your comprehensive estate plan, contact Michael Geiger at Geiger Law.