One of the most common obstacles to completing one's estate planning is determining who will serve in the roles of Executor, Trustee, Agent, or Guardian. The people who take on these responsibilities will have the authority to manage your probate estate, manage your affairs and make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated, and care for your children and any assets left for them after your death.
As we discussed here, sometimes people have trouble choosing their agents because they view these roles sentimentally and want to please and include their loved ones rather than pick the right people for the right jobs.
While choosing from among trusted family members and loved ones to fill these roles is a challenge, in some situations the obstacle to overcome is that there are no suitable candidates in a person's life. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Perhaps one's children and extended family live far away, or he or she has no children or extended family. Or, one has family members close by, but they are simply not capable or trustworthy to take on these responsibilities. This is of particular concern for those who have young children but have no one in their life whom they trust to care for and manage their children's assets in the event of their death.
Whatever the reason, people often let this dilemma prevent them from completing their estate planning. They see no options, and, whether they intend to or are simply not aware that this will be the case, decide to allow the state to make these decisions for them when the need arises. With no plan in place, the court will oversee the distribution of their estate upon their death and appoint people to fill other fiduciary roles should they become incapacitated—and they will have no say over who is appointed.
But there are other options.
If you have no one in your life that you can trust with these responsibilities, there are professional executors and trustees who can help you. Many banks and investment firms have trust services departments, who can step in—whether as a primary or backup agent—and manage your estate and affairs for you if needed.
These professional executors can also be a valuable resource when a family situation and relationships are such that conflict may arise when decisions must be made on your behalf in the event of your death, disability, or incapacitation. Choosing third-party professional fiduciaries can help alleviate tensions and ensure that you and your wishes will be honored.
If you find yourself with no trusted candidates to act as your agent, we can help you get in contact with these professional executors and decide which services will be the best fit for your situation. Know that if you do not complete your planning, the courts will appoint someone to act in these roles for you, possibly even people you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Don't leave yourself and your loved ones unprotected without an estate plan. At Peach State Wills and Trusts, we can help you decide who in your life can best serve in your fiduciary roles or connect you with alternative options such as professional executors and trustees. Give us a call at (678) 344-5342 to discuss your situation today.