Appointing the right people in an estate plan

When North Carolina residents start the estate planning process, they should pay close attention to who is appointed to various roles in the estate. There are a number of different responsibilities associated with these documents. For example, there may be an agent who is responsible for making a person's health care decisions. There is usually an executor who is in charge of the will and other estate planning documents. If there is a trust, there will also be a trustee.

There might be several smaller roles as well. If the estate holder is incapacitated, someone might manage their social security payments while another person could manage long-term care insurance. Yet another representative might be in charge of the funeral. In some cases, a person may even have be added on a joint bank account.

There are three potential pitfalls in these appointments. One is that there are too many people named for overlapping responsibilities. It may be necessary to work with a professional to streamline this part of the estate plan. Another potential problem is that some people might not even know they have been appointed for the role. In worst-case scenarios, the wrong people may have been appointed. They may unqualified or simply disorganized and unable to manage family conflict.

For all of these reasons, an estate owner will want to work with professionals and family members to make the best choices. An ongoing conversation with family members about who is responsible for what in the estate plan as well as specifically where assets are going may help. If family members understand the rationale of these decisions, it is less likely that the estate plan will be challenged.

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