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Trust – The key to picking your agents

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Having the right people, making the right decisions, is key to a properly formulated estate plan.

One of the most critical decisions you need to make is who do you want your agents to be? Who do YOU want to make financial decisions on your behalf? Who do YOU want to make health care decisions on your behalf? This is not an easy decision, nor is it one you should take lightly. You want to be able to trust that the person you select will be able to handle your affairs as if you were making the decisions yourself.

The people you pick to act on your behalf while you are alive are called “Agents” – they work for you, for your benefit. The legal documents that grant the agents their power is what defines how much or how little power each agent is given. The attorney drafting the documents will work with you to meet your needs and wishes in that grant of power, but the selection of the agent is a personal decision that rests with you. The people you pick to act on your behalf after you pass away is either your successor trustee (if you use a trust) or a personal representative (if you use a Will). Collectively, we can call the decision makers after death, your executor.

When selecting your agents and executor, some factors to consider include:
• Ability of the person to act for you when you need them to
• Comfort that the person will act in the way you want
• The willingness of that person to be your agent
• The depth of personal knowledge you have of that person
• The depth of personal knowledge that the person has of you
• In financial matters, how well versed is the person with figures and calculations
• In health care matters, can the person balance the emotions of the situation with adherence to your desires
• Are there other influences (such as a sibling or spouse) that would impact the person’s ability to adhere to your desires

The bottom line is: Do you trust the person to act in your best interest, when you are unable to act for yourself?

When you select a person who you trust to be your agent and executor, you will have the peace of mind that the plan you have put together will be executed in your best interest!

Contributed by Attorney James P. Plitz