Who Are Your "People"?
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
One of the biggest decisions when creating an Estate Plan is who will be responsible after you are gone. Many trust family and/or friends to manage their estate or be the guardian or trustee for their assets and/or children. This is a logical choice given they know you and your family and may already be involved in the estate.
It’s important to consider the responsibilities involved in acting in these roles. Your “people” will be responsible for:
taking inventory of your estate assets
paying off debts
filing tax returns
paying the ongoing expenses of administering your estate and distributing the balance of your estate to your beneficiaries
possibly acting as Trustee for your benefit or the benefit of your children
hiring service providers to help with any/all of the above
Generally, you’ll want your person to be organized, honest, fair and responsible with money. A good person is someone who maintains quality personal relationships and, most importantly, is someone with integrity that will respect your wishes after you’re gone.
If you don’t have people in your life that meet this criteria, or if you have a high net worth, there are private, professional fiduciaries and corporate and bank trustees which offer professional services. These services, while sometimes necessary, are often costly and made only available to trusts with sizeable balances (over $3-5 million).
Your representative, agent, guardians and/or and trustees who act under the powers in your estate planning documents (Trust, Will, Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive, etc.) are known as fiduciaries. There are two parts of being a fiduciary that most aren't aware of: (1) being a fiduciary carries personal legal liability if the job is done incorrectly, and (2) the role is not mandatory, so a named person may can decline to act or step down, leaving the next in line to act.
Choosing your people isn’t always easy or straight forward, but it’s better to make a plan that have none.
It's never too late (or too soon) to get started on your plan. Schedule a complimentary phone call with me and let's begin the conversation today.