Your estate plan is the result of years of careful, thoughtful and strategic planning. Ultimately, it is meant to give you peace of mind in knowing that your family and future are protected against the unknown.

Your estate plan likely incorporates many different people, whether as your agent for your power of attorney or advance health care directive, as the executor of your estate or more. Choosing the right people to help carry out your wishes is critical in planning for a smooth transition when the time comes.

Choosing the right people to make decisions later in your life

Whether due to an incapacitating injury or illness, there may come a time when you are unable to manage your finances or make critical health care decisions. Choosing the appropriate individual to carry out the wishes detailed in your durable financial power of attorney and advance health care directive is critical. Some key considerations include:

  • Avoiding naming someone close in age to you due to the possibility of similar health issues or limitations
  • Choosing someone who is responsible, smart and honest
  • Deciding who will act calmly and rationally in stressful situations
  • Selecting someone who will continually act in your best interests no matter the circumstances

Depending on your situation, choosing more than one individual to grant such authority to may be in your best interests.

Choosing the right people to administer your estate

Whether you need to choose an executor of your will, a trustee for your trust, both or more, you must carefully consider these roles. An executor can expect significant time, energy and financial commitments to properly settle your estate.

Many gravitate toward naming their spouse, oldest child or other family member as executor. However, family rank should not be the only parameter you set. The duties of an executor and trustee can be time-consuming, demanding, complex and depending on your beneficiary dynamics, riddled with conflict. Choosing someone who is financially savvy and calm under pressure can help to ensure the proper execution of your wishes.

Communicating your wishes

Communicating your wishes with the individuals you select for these roles is critical. Discussing the potential role and their openness to taking on such responsibility can be preferable to throwing them into an unexpected position in a turbulent time. Take the time to explain your decision and acknowledge their opinions or hesitation to make the right choice for you.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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