Choosing an Agent: Things to Bear in Mind for Estate Planning

estate planning

Who will help you if you’re incapacitated? Who will manage the administration of your estate after you pass away? These important people are known as agents, although they can also be referred to by specific roles like personal representative, executor, or trustee.

You may not get to choose your family members, but the agents who serve in critical roles in your estate are within your control. There are two different types of agents to consider: medical and financial. The medical category includes an agent named in a HIPAA release, any guardians you name over yourself, and an agent in your medical power of attorney.

Financial agents cannot be disqualified by law from being appointed by a court. There are no qualifications required by law for agents under a power of attorney or agents serving as a trustee, but it is generally not wise to appoint someone with problematic history such as a bad reputation, someone who is a debtor for you or a convicted felon.

Make sure to choose financial agents who are organized, dedicated and honest. They must comply with statutory responsibilities to manage your assets. While you certainly can choose someone who is a family member to serve in these important roles, it may not make sense depending on your individual circumstances. You will also want to keep your power of attorney and other agents updated over time, such as if this person becomes unwilling or unable to serve in this role due to disinterest, illness or having passed away.

Our Pasadena estate planning law firm can assist you with determining what plans make the most sense for your situation.

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