One of the most important estate planning decisions you will make is deciding who will be responsible for your care if you become disabled and who will administer your trust after your death. This “job” often requires a great deal of time and responsibility which can include paying bills, managing finances, yearly accounting’s, investment decisions, filing tax returns, dealing with other family members, etc. Most people typically just name a family member and spend very little time considering who really is best suited to handle this critical and time-consuming responsibility Here are some things to consider in helping you decide what is best for your situation:
1. Should I name a person or seek professional management?
The size and complexity of your estate will likely be the determining factors in answering this question. Smaller estates generally cannot afford the fees that a professional such as a bank trust agreement would charge to administer the estate. Larger estates can afford the higher fees and if they are more complex, might be better suited for professional management.
2. Can someone in the family do the job?
A fairly straightforward estate might benefit from having a family member named as fiduciary. This assumes however that the family member has the skills to do the job. Unfortunately, not every family member is able to handle all of the responsibilities.
3. Does your family get along?
Sometimes your fiduciary will have to make some unpopular decisions. If there is disharmony or a lack of trust in your family, not only will the fiduciary’s workload significantly increase, but the family relations will be further harmed.
4. Should you name more than one person?
Sometimes naming more than one person can be helpful – assuming of course they can work well together. Dividing up the responsibilities among two fiduciaries can take some of the burden off what can be a major time commitment.
To help you decide what is best for your unique situation, make sure to seek the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney.