What is discretion and why is it important for your estate plan?
Discretion – 1: the quality of being discreet, circumspect, and cautious in one’s speech, 2: the ability to make responsible decisions, 3 a: individual choice or judgment, b: power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain legal bounds.
The concept of discretion is extremely important in the areas of estate planning and probate.You should expect your attorney to both know the rules for keeping a confidences and practice discretion in all aspects of his life. Others are often disappointed when attorneys refuse to share privileged information. But a client’s business is only someone else’s business if the client chooses to share it with them. Your attorney should guard your correspondence, conversations, and confidences with vigilance. This may seem extreme to others, especially in a world where people readily invite others into every aspect of their lives, but professional legal standards demand discretion.
Another important aspect of discretion is that found in part 3(b) of the definition: the “power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain legal bounds.” We cannot accurately predict the future. When we try to predict the future and attempt to control assets and people from the grave, we are asking for trouble. The best course for blessing our beneficiaries is to leave wise fiduciaries who can make informed decisions in real time. Change is the only constant, and it is impossible to anticipate the status of the economy, higher education, or government, or the personal health, habits, gifts, family relationships, or even survival of loved ones. When naming executors and other fiduciaries, select people and institutions who can be trusted and grant them the discretion needed to maximize the value of your estate plan.