Talking To Your Agents About Their Role

One of the more challenging aspects of estate planning can sometimes be choosing our agents—who will manage our affairs when we become sick (power of attorney), and who will manage them when we die (executor of a will or trustee of a trust). Not only do we need to choose agents, but we always need to choose at least two backup agents just in case the initial agent can’t or won’t take on the role.

For some of our clients, it is easy to choose agents – maybe a husband or wife, an only child, and another close relative. For others, they just aren’t sure who to choose!

While contemplating who to select as your agent, you should really consider talking to them about the roles they will fill and also make sure they are willing to accept the role.

For your initial agent, let them know that they will be the first person to be in charge if something were to happen to you. Let them know where you have kept your original estate planning documents, and let them know if you have any copies of the documents and where they are as well. Also, let them know where they can find a list of your assets, including bank accounts, securities, investments, IRA’s, etc. They will need this information!

You should tell your agents that by agreeing to the role, they will be accepting a major responsibility, one that must be taken seriously. You must let them know that they must act in your best interests, and that you’ve put safeguards into place to make sure that occurs.

You should explain your health care preferences and end of life preferences to your agent. Even though you’ve written down your preferences on your living will and health care power of attorney, it’s still important to verbally communicate your wishes so that your agent is clear about your instructions. You should let your agent know that if you were at an end-of-life situation and you asked for “the plug to be pulled”, your agent would still have to confirm those instructions with the doctor in charge, which could be a painful decision for the agent to make.

In summary, your agent should know as much as possible now about your plan. There should be no surprises as to who the agents are, what you expect from them, and what your medical preferences are. Your agents should always be people you trust without a doubt.

Remember, make sure you review your plan every few years to make sure that the agents you selected then are the agents you would like to have listed now.

Our firm has the expertise necessary to help you choose agents, and make sure you have a well-crafted legacy plan. Please contact us today at info@jawatlaw.com or by calling (215) 706-0200 for your complementary consultation.