A couple doing an estate plan struggled with the designation of their agents and executors – the people who would step in to assist them if they were to become disabled, or who would administer their estate should they pass away.
It was apparent that they hadn’t yet spoken with any of the people they were considering. But having such conversations is vital to the strength of the plan.
First, the people being appointed should know what they are being asked to do. If they don’t, they may be taken by surprise when they are needed. Or worse, they may have no idea that they are supposed to step in, resulting in delays and inaction when decisiveness is important.
Second, they should consent to being so designated. Being an agent or an executor requires taking on responsibility. An appointment of someone without his knowledge or consent carries a risk that the appointment will fail – but the principal is unlikely to know until his agent’s service is needed. At that point, if he is not able or not willing to serve, it may be too late to appoint someone more suited to the task.
Third, having such a conversation is an opportunity to ensure that such personal representatives share your values, and will assist you in fulfilling them in the event they must act on your behalf. Alternatively, if there are conflicts, it allows you to appoint someone else. That way, you can be confident that someone suitable will be ready to act for you should the need arise.
Estate planning is an opportunity to build a stronger, brighter future for yourself and your family. Part of that planning should include conversations with your agents. Doing so can ensure that your agents can be effective in the functions you anticipate for them. Keeping your agents in the dark consigns the results, and your legacy, to chance.