Crafting a legally sound estate plan, or updating an existing plan, is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your end-of-life health care decisions are honored. Perhaps, even more importantly, it can ensure that your loved ones receive their inheritance as intended upon your passing as well. There is also no better time to act than at the beginning of a new year when annual tax considerations take effect.
Who should be the decision maker when it comes to your estate plan? It is not a question of who is the most deserving; rather, it is a question of who is the best choice to make important estate-related decisions. Elder parents, for example, often want to be fair and include all of their adult children in their estate decision making. Unfortunately, this well meaning plan may complicate the process. Additional complications can also arise when you simply select the oldest child, but by far the least experienced, or elect a competent adult child who lives far away and is difficult to reach.
Let us give you a bit of advice in making this critical decision for your estate planning. We want to share three ways to determine the right decision maker for you and for your estate plan.
1. Select your most capable adult child, the most competent adult child who lives closest to you, or both. It would be ideal to be able to rely on a highly capable adult child who lives nearby and never think twice about your planning, but that is not always an option. Start by discussing availability with your children because you will want someone who is able to “be there” within a moment’s notice. If schedules seem to be an issue, instead, you may want to choose a more geographically available adult child as financial institutions, medical facilities, and legal obligations may require a degree of in-person level of participation.
2. Less is more when it comes to making tough decisions. Accordingly, pick one person who you feel would be the most capable to perform the requirements of your estate plan, especially regarding health care and financial decisions. Name other adult children as successor decision makers to keep them involved and feeling appreciated.
3. If you do not have adult children, or trusted family members or friends to choose from, there are other available options. Financial institutions, for example, can provide fiduciary representatives to manage your accounts. Attorneys are also bound by fiduciary responsibilities and make for excellent trusted advisors. You will want to discuss both of these options with your estate planning lawyer during the planning meeting to gain his or her advice.
If you or your loved ones would like more information about estate planning and how to select the best decision maker for your situation, do not wait to contact us. We know this blog may raise more questions than it answers and want you to be able to obtain the advice you need now, or any time in the future.