It is important to take the time to decide who should be the executor of your estate upon your death, and your power of attorney if you become incapacitated. Once you make these decisions, determine who should be the back-up in case your first choice is not available. Usually, you can think of one person you trust and more likely than not you have even thought about who that person should be before you arrive at your appointment to meet with me. I congratulate you on this decision. Everyone feels good about deciding who this very important person should be.
Most of my clients usually name a family member, a child, a brother, or a sister. It is fine to have a family member act for you even if they are a named beneficiary under your will or trust. My strong preference is that you name one person at a time. You should have a descending order of individuals who can act for you. After you have decided on who your executor and power of attorney should be, you need to decide upon a back-up. I highly recommend that you have a second and even a third named individual on your list. A bank or credit union can fulfill this responsibility if needed. I would recommend that you contact the corporate trustee department that you want named in your document and have a discussion with them regarding their investment philosophy and fees.
Over the years, I have witnessed occasions when the second or even the third choice on a client’s list needed to step up and act as the executor and power of attorney. Life is not predictable. I have been involved more than once in working with a successor power of attorney or executor because the client’s first choice was unavailable or unwilling to act. Your decision as to whom should be named on your list should not be a hasty one. It would also make a lot of sense if you discussed this decision with them. Perhaps, they are not interested in taking on this responsibility. It is better to find out now. It will be much worse if you become incapacitated and no one on your list wants to handle that responsibility. We might end up in court naming a corporate trustee or another attorney to handle your financial affairs.
I enjoy meeting clients during initial consultations and offering suggestions as to who should be chosen to handle this very important matter in your life. Usually with a short discussion and with some brainstorming, we can find a solution for your situation. Just remember, it is of uttermost importance to designate your executor and power of attorney, and also have a back-up named in your estate planning.
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