Have you really thought about the people you have chosen to act on your behalf in your estate plans?
When people are trying to decide who to empower with the authority to make their medical and financial decisions or direct their estates, it’s probably only natural that they act out of emotion. It’s a big decision, after all.
Unfortunately, some experts say that leaves a “time bomb” lurking inside many people’s estate plans. Many of the people appointed as someone’s personal agent or executor simply aren’t up to the demands of the job.
Here’s how to minimize the risk that your own estate plans will fall apart because you picked the wrong representatives:
1. Learn everything you can about each role
You need to understand the unique role each person involved in your estate plans will have — and when to combine the jobs. For example, it doesn’t make sense to ask one person to hold your financial power of attorney and handle your bills, while simultaneously asking someone else to handle your Social Security benefits. The two jobs overlap to a degree that it would make a lot of extra work and require a lot of communication between the two. It would be a lot simpler to have one person handle the job.
2. Consider the personalities and relationships of those you appoint
A lot of people view an appointment to handle someone’s health care, money or estate as an honor — and it is. But your attempt to equally honor everyone of importance in your life could backfire.
For example, designating both your adult children as co-executors of your estate could lead to unnecessary conflicts if they don’t get along. If you can’t choose, consider hiring a third party to handle the job.
3. Make sure the people you designate are willing to serve
Never choose someone as your executor, trustee or proxy for health care unless you discuss the issue with that person ahead of time. Make sure that everyone is able and willing to take on such a big responsibility. Some people may be honored to be asked, but just not up to the task.
Discuss these various concerns with your attorney during your estate planning sessions to get more advice on how to avoid unforeseen problems. You deserve smooth sailing in your golden years — so do everything you can to make that possible.