Most people in New Jersey will agree that contemplating their death is anything but pleasant. Nevertheless, by executing an estate plan, you can address the inevitable by dictating who will inherit your assets and what kind of end-of-life care you prefer. However, there are important aspects of estate planning that could have a major impact on how your estate plan will be handled when the time comes.
When executing an estate plan, you must make decisions giving other people the right to act on your behalf, either during your lifetime or upon your death. For example, an agent will need to be selected to make health care decisions on your behalf in an advance medical directive or power of attorney. If you have a trust, you will need to select one or more trustees to administer the trust after you pass on. And, the person responsible for seeing that your will is followed upon your death through probate is known as an executor.
Some people will simply select a loved one to fulfill these important rolls. However, your loved ones may not have the knowledge or experience to properly execute their duties. Moreover, if different people are assigned to roles that overlap in part, it could complicate things once it is time for them to fulfill their obligations in these roles. This is especially true if these people don't communicate well or cannot cooperate with one another.
In addition, you may have selected individuals to fulfill these roles, but were these people notified of their newly bestowed responsibilities? Some people will not be comfortable in one of these roles if they feel they are unqualified to fulfill them. And, should a role be unexpectedly sprung on them if you are incapacitated or upon your death, they may have problems executing their duties.
So, when choosing people to fulfill certain roles in your estate plan, it can help to let them know ahead of time, so they can decide whether it is a responsibility they want to take on. Sometimes it is preferable to have a professional, such as an attorney, fulfill these roles since an attorney has the experience and knowledge to fulfill the responsibilities of these roles in a lawful manner. In either case, making sure the right people are selected to fulfill the right roles can go a long way to ensuring your wishes as documented in your estate plan will be met.