Who Should I Name as Executor?
Q: How do I choose who to name as my Executor, Power of Attorney, Health Care Agent and Trustee? 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 the executor of your Will (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 the responsibilities that each role entails. If you create a Trust as part of your estate plan, be aware that the duties and responsibilities of a Trustee are many and varied. The roles of Personal Representative, Trustee, 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. Most importantly, these roles require someone who is absolutely trustworthy.
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 as 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.