Protecting Your Utah Estate Plan: Inform Your Beneficiaries

This post is the fifth in a series of posts that offer recommendations for safeguarding your estate plan against the improper conduct of trustees, family members and others.

Sharing information with your beneficiaries during your lifetime can help ensure that the estate plan will be implemented as intended.

Discussing the contents of the estate plan with family members during your lifetime can help relatives who are not happy with the plan understand the rationale behind the plan, reducing the possibility that they will contest the plan after your death.

As discussed in prior posts, trustees are not always forthcoming when it comes to providing information to beneficiaries.  Telling all of the beneficiaries in advance what they are to receive gives them an opportunity after your death to enforce their rights against trustees who do not fulfill their duty to keep the beneficiaries informed.

Similarly, providing all of your “residuary” beneficiaries with an itemized list of your assets can thwart an attempt by a trustee to hide or siphon off assets.  A residuary beneficiary would be any beneficiary who is to receive a percentage share of the estate, as opposed to a beneficiary who receives a particular item of property or a specific dollar amount.  There would be no point in disclosing all of your assets to a beneficiary who receives only an antique table, or to a beneficiary who receives only a $5,000 bequest.  But after such small gifts have been made, a beneficiary who receives a share of what is left (i.e. a residuary beneficiary) should perhaps be told the extent of your property during your lifetime so that he or she can make sure it is all accounted for after death.

It may therefore be advisable (1) to give a copy of your estate plan to all of your primary beneficiaries during your lifetime; (2) to discuss the estate plan with your primary beneficiaries, and even with relatives who are not beneficiaries, but who think they should be; and (3) to give your residuary beneficiaries an itemized list of all of your property during your lifetime.

For a more detailed discussion of estate planning in Utah, see Basic Utah Estate Planning on this website.

Rust Tippett is the author of this blog post.

Copyright 2014 UNLEPI, LLC, a Utah limited liability company.  All Rights Reserved.

This blog post in no way creates an attorney-client relationship between the reader and either Robert S. (Rust) Tippett or Bennett Tueller Johnson & Deere, LLC.  The reader should consult with his or her own estate planning attorney regarding his or her particular circumstances.

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