Everyone needs an estate planning agent – and not the Hollywood type. An estate planning agent is someone you designate to handle your estate after you’ve gone or who can make decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. Here are the kinds of estate planning agents everyone needs:
Trustee or Executor – A trustee is the person you designate to carry out your wishes and distributing your assets as listed in your revocable living trust. An executor is the person you designate to carry out your wishes and distributing your assets as listed in your last will and testament. You can choose a family member, a trusted friend or even a professional to fill this role.
Guardian – If you and your spouse die before your children reach adulthood, a guardian is the person you designate to take care of your minor children as well as handle their finances. Sometimes people decide to split the roles – one guardian to raise the children and another to handle the finances. This is what we would recommend. Choosing a guardian (as well as a backup in case your first choice cannot serve) ensures your kids are taken care of by the people you know, love and trust, no matter what. One of the best ways to protect your children is to have a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan. Without it, your children are at risk of being taken into the care of strangers if the people you’ve named as permanent guardians don’t live nearby or if your legal documents cannot be located.
Durable Power of Attorney – this person is designated by you to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become disabled or otherwise unable to manage your financial affairs.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare – also known as a healthcare proxy, this is the person you designate to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself and is an important decision when creating your advance medical directives. Their powers can be invoked if you become disabled and unable to make your own decisions about your health care, so your choice should be someone you know will carry out the wishes you have expressed in your advance medical directives or Living Will. They also need to be able to stand up for you if family members have different ideas than you do about your medical treatment. A healthcare panel can also be appointed.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours, plan for the protection of yourself and your family through thoughtful estate planning. Call our office today at (646) 736-7539 to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family.