An alluded to “they” in a recent business article can “make or break your estate plan.” Those individuals are obviously important people who need to be carefully considered.
And thoughtfully selected.
“They” are the surrogates picked by an estate planner who have a central say over matters that they have been tasked to act upon.
Those matters are often multiple and varied. A named executor carries out the stated directives of a will and disposes of estate property following a planner’s death. One or various agents have legal power at certain moments to make key decisions concerning a planner’s health and finances. Trustees manage trusts created to benefit third parties. Guardians are named (hopefully so) to care for young children.
The point, which is centrally visited by Forbes in a recent article on the importance of surrogate selection by an estate planner: planners often make third-party selections relevant to the handling of estate matters either during a period of disability or following death, and those choices are sometimes far from optimal.
In fact, they can be disastrous. Some persons named as agents, guardians, trustees, executors, attorneys in fact and other planning surrogates know little (sometimes nothing) about the subject matter they might be asked to weigh in on. Conversely, they might know a great deal, but be so unfamiliar with family dynamics that their decisions sow discord rather than solve problems. Some might not even know they were appointed. Others might even have passed away.
The fundamental point conveyed in the Forbes piece is that surrogate selection in estate planning strongly merits due reflection and occasional revising, optimally with the benefit of counsel from a proven planning attorney.
Know your surrogates, understand their different roles and have confidence that they can work together, stresses Forbes. Do that as a planner and you can rest easy with the decisions you have made concerning those who will act for you at important times in the future.