Who should I select to manage my financial affairs and make medical decisions in my estate plan?
Once you've taken the leap to plan your estate you will be faced with difficult choices, especially regarding who should handle your property and financial affairs as well as who is best suited to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Ultimately, these decisions hinge on the skills and the emotional intelligence of the individuals you select to take on these responsibilities.
The most basic estate planning tool is a will, which allows you to name a personal representative to manage and distribute your estate after your death. Because this individual will be tasked with reviewing financial and legal documents, paying off debts, and transferring assets to the beneficiaries, he or she should have a basic understanding of financial and legal matters. It is crucial that this individual has certain qualities such as competence and trustworthiness.
While some consider naming a spouse or an eldest child to be their executor, selecting the wrong individual to act as your personal representative can stir resentment and hostility among your heirs. In is critical to avoiding selecting someone who is confrontational or incompetent. These situations could lead to a will contest, and unnecessary expenses and delays in settling your estate.
Lastly, because a will is only effective after death, it is also necessary to name a financial agent in a durable power of attorney who is responsible for managing your finances in the event you become incapacitated. Regardless of who you select, this individual needs to have knowledge about your finances and property and have the skills and integrity to handle your affairs as well as to provide for your needs.
Advance Medical Directives
In addition to naming individuals to manage your financial affairs it is also crucial to put in place advance medical directives that a name a trusted person to make decisions about the type of medical treatment you should receive if you are unable to do so or cannot speak for yourself.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare, or healthcare proxy, allows you select someone who coordinates with your doctors to ensure you receive the medical care you prefer. Another advance medical directive, a living will, specifies in writing the type of medical care you wish to receive if you become terminally ill, incapacitated or unconscious and cannot communicate decisions about the end of life treatment you prefer. By choosing the right person to make medical decisions on your behalf, you can have peace of mind knowing that you will receive the treatment your prefer.
These are only some of the hard choices that come with estate planning, and there are a number of other considerations and documents that are essential for a well designed plan. By engaging the services of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can receive the proper advice and counsel that can help you make the best decisions.