Going Beyond Estate Planning

July 12, 2023

By cdarmody on July 12, 2023

If you have already documented your estate plan and chosen your executor, you may be feeling well prepared for the future. And you should be. A 2021 Gallup poll found that less than half of adults in the U.S. have drafted estate plans, which means you’re well ahead of the curve.1 But the planning process doesn’t end here. Now it’s time to consider how to set your executor and other personal representatives up for success when the time comes to settle your estate. 

Here are six scenarios to consider as you take the next steps in your estate planning. 

Financial Durable Power of Attorney 

In many cases, the same person you designate as your agent in a financial durable power of attorney would also serve as the executor of your estate. Your Last Will and Testament and your Power of Attorney should both name a primary and alternate executor, as well as an agent. Once that’s done, it’s time to think through what information you feel comfortable sharing with them in advance.  

Consider: Will you choose to introduce this individual to banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions to establish familiarity? How will you share information about your accounts and institutions, as well how to “take control” of bill pay?  

Medical Power of Attorney/Healthcare Directive 

In addition to discussing financial information with your agent, you might consider reviewing your wishes for medical and end-of-life care with your Medical Power of Attorney. This can also include related topics such as planning for home or hospice care and what information your agent is authorized to share with your family members and friends. 

Consider: Does your Medical Power of Attorney know your preferences for medical intervention, end-of-life scenarios, and the disposition of your last remains? Who is responsible for sharing information with the members of your family and community? 

Successor Trustee to Trust 

If you create a revocable living trust, you will need to name a successor trustee to take over the trust upon your passing or incapacitation. The executor of your estate and your successor trustee should both know of any revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, trustee duties, assets, and any intentions or goals you have established in your will.  

Consider: Do you have a revocable living trust or any irrevocable trust that would require your successor trustee to step in and assume trustee duties? What assets are owned by your trust(s) and does your trustee understand the goals and intentions of any trust(s) you have established? 

Assets in the Estate 

Bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, personal property, and many other types of assets will need attention from your executor after you pass away. Probate court can help ensure that all beneficiaries are treated fairly and in line with your instructions regarding who will receive portions of your estate. Proper estate planning and documentation can help expedite the probate process and settle your estate more quickly. 

Consider: What happens to items you own, such as stocks, retirement plans, vehicles, and other personal property? Do the necessary individuals know what to do to make sure assets are safeguarded and distributed to the proper beneficiaries? 

Digital Assets 

While this may sound like a high-tech issue, it’s likely that you have a number of digital assets that will need to be managed upon your passing. What should happen to your email and social media accounts, electronic documents, photos, and even your mobile number? If you have a recently updated Power of Attorney and Last Will and Testament, your attorney may have included a digital assets clause, giving your agent or your executor power to control digital assets. If not, you might consider a password management app or other tool that allows you to designate a successor to access your passwords at the necessary time. 

Consider: Who should access your digital accounts and assets upon your passing, and will those people have the information necessary to do so? What do you want done with those accounts and the information they contain?   

What Professionals Will your Executor Work With? 

Settling an estate takes a village. Depending on the types and complexity of assets you own, different professionals may be needed, ranging from estate attorneys to life insurance agents, tax professionals, financial advisors, banking experts, and others. As your personal representative, your executor will likely need to manage relationships with any professionals involved in settling your estate.  

Consider: Does your executor know the professionals you work with already who could potentially help execute the terms of your estate plan? 

Taking the next steps in your estate planning process isn’t always an easy task. If you need help getting started or updating your plans, talk to your RMB advisor today. 


The opinions and analyses expressed in the article are based on RMB Capital Management, LLC's ("RMB Capital") research and professional experience. The information and data in this article do not constitute legal, tax, accounting, investment or other professional advice. Investors should consult with their trusted professionals prior to taking any action. 

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