Factors to Consider when Picking Executor, Trustees and POAs

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November 15, 2022 •  The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC
One of the biggest challenges that clients encounter during the process is deciding who to appoint as their trustees, powers of attorney, health care surrogates and executors.
Robert W. Haley, managing lawyer
Robert W. Haley
Certified Elder Law Attorney® Robert W. Haley brings over 27 years of legal expertise and knowledge to his firm, which concentrates solely on the areas of elder law, estate planning (Last Will & Testaments, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trusts, etc.,.) Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and fiduciary services. For many years, Robert practiced in real estate law, and in general practice, but decided to narrow his focus to elder law and estate planning when he realized the tremendous need for proper planning to be filled in Southside Virginia.

There are many factors to consider when picking executor, trustee and POAs when working on your estate plan! Having your estate planning documents properly created with an experienced professional like a certified elder law attorney is just as important, as is naming the people who will be putting your estate plan into action! A key sticking point is often deciding who is the right person for the role, says an article from Nasdaq titled “Estate Planning: 5 Tips to Pick Trustees, Executors and POAs.” It helps to stop thinking about how people will feel if they are not selected and focus instead on their critical thinking and decision-making abilities.

Consider who will have the time to help. Having adult children who are highly successful in their professions is wonderful. However, if they are extremely busy running a business, leading an organization, etc., will their busy schedules allow the flexibility to help? A daughter with twins may love you to the moon and back. However, will she be able to handle the tasks of estate administration/probate?

Take these appointments seriously. Selecting someone on an arbitrary basis is asking for trouble. Just because one child is older doesn’t necessarily mean they are better capable of managing your estate. Making a decision based on gender can be equally flawed. Naming agents and executors with financial acumen is more important than giving your creative child the chance to learn how to manage money through the trial and error of your estate.

Don’t make the process more complicated. There are many families where parents name all the siblings to act on their behalf, so no one feels left out. This usually turns into an estate disaster. An odd number of siblings can lead to one group winning decisions by sheer numbers, while aggressive, win-at-all-costs siblings—even if it’s just two of them—can lead to delayed decisions and long-reaching family divisions.

Name the right person for right now. Younger people who don’t yet have children often aren’t sure who their best agent might be. Picking a parent may become problematic, if the parent becomes sick or dies. Naming a close friend in your thirties may need updating if your friendship wanes. Make it simple: appoint the best person for today, with the caveat of updating your agents and documents as time goes on and circumstances change. Remember, circumstances always change.

Consider the value of a professional trustee or fiduciary. The best person to be a trustee on a trust, executor or power of attorney may not always be a family member or friend. If a trustee is one sibling and the beneficiary of the trust is another sibling who can’t manage money, the relationship could suffer. If a large estate includes generational trusts and complex ownership structures, a professional may be better suited to deal with management and tax issues.

Mr. Haley himself goes through continued training and education towards this end, should he be asked to fill these roles in a client's estate planning situation. This is something that does occur from time-to-time when there is no one fitting to serve in a family situation,  as estate administration and probate situations have become more and more complex!  Having an objective 'third party' fill these important roles like an elder law attorney instead of a family member who may be already dealing with tense or unpredictable family dynamics can often be a better alternative. An elder law attorney experienced in fiduciary matters handling an estate can certainly make things far more easier!

The value of having an estate plan cannot be overstated. However, the importance of who will be appointed to oversee and administer the estate is equally important. The success of an estate plan often rests on the people who are assigned to handle their respective tasks. It is crucial they all do their due diligence!

So, when thinking about factors to consider when picking executor, trustee and POAs, be candid and open when speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney in a consultation about the people in your life and their abilities to manage their given roles.

If you or a loved one are concerned about issues with situations like this in estate planning and elder law concerns including Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and questions regarding long-term care and the nursing home, reach out to us!  Book a call with us on our website: www.VAElderLaw.com to see how we can help! We have offices in BassettDanville and Lynchburg to serve you.

Reference: nasdaq (Sep. 4, 2022) “Estate Planning: 5 Tips to Pick Trustees, Executors and POAs”

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