When drafting estate plans, making decisions about which individuals should be given the roles of executor, power of attorney or trustee can be painstaking, but they are important. These people can have immense responsibilities, and their professionalism and approach can have a significant impact on the outcome of estate administration or other end-of-life events. Here are some factors those in Massachusetts should consider when determining whom to name for these key positions:
- Time available: People may prefer to select the most accomplished or successful person in their family for these key roles, thinking their competency will help them with the job. The problem that can sometimes arise from this approach is that highly successful or career-focused loved ones may not have adequate time to dedicate to their estate execution or POA tasks. Finding someone with a combination of the right skills and a schedule conducive to the work is critical.
- Proximity: While having a local trustee may not be overly important, some roles like medical power of attorney will be much easier for those who are close by to take on. Carefully consider the responsibility a person might have and how their location might help or hinder their ability to follow through when naming people for these key roles.
- Agreeability with beneficiaries: For many planners, preventing family conflict is a key consideration. Picking an executor who is trusted not only by the planner but by all involved in the estate can make a big difference in this regard. Another thing to consider is whether or not naming multiple people to a single role could cause conflict, as this can often result in deadlock or lack of decisiveness.
Every individual’s circumstances are different when creating estate plans. Some have an obvious choice for who should handle power of attorney and executor responsibilities, while others may find the decision less straight-forward. An experienced estate planning attorney can help individuals and families think through these important decisions and to document the choices in a legally binding way.