Q: How do I choose who to name as my executor, power of attorney, and health care agent? I don’t want to hurt any of my children’s feelings.
A: It can be hard to decide who to name to these roles, especially if you think a child will be upset if not chosen. While you don’t want to make a child feel slighted, the duties and obligations of your executor (now called a Personal Representative), Attorney-in-Fact under your durable Power of Attorney, and your Health Care Agent are substantial and you must appoint a person who can carry out these responsibilities. The role of Personal Representative and Attorney-in-Fact require a person who is well-organized, not a procrastinator, and willing and able to move a project forward to a conclusion. He or she should be able to work well with others, such as attorneys and accountants, and also get along well with family members and keep them informed.
Your Health Care Agent should be someone you are comfortable speaking with about your health care wishes and who you can trust to carry out your instructions. Your health care agent should be able to communicate with your health care providers, not be afraid to ask questions or request explanations, and be able to advocate for you if necessary.
In complex situations or where significant discord between family members is expected, a non-family member may be the best choice. In any event, you should discuss your concerns with an experienced estate planning attorney who will help you make the right choices.