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The Sandy Spring Way

The Myths and Truths of Estate Planning – Decision Makers

January 3rd, 2013 | By Philip Fish

Phil Fish

Myth – You need to name different people to the various roles of your estate plan.

Terminology often causes confusion when working through the estate planning process – different names for the same role (Executor and Personal Representative), similar names for different roles (Fiduciary and Trustee).  Where people truly get stuck is who to name as their decision makers within the legal documents.  Do you name your oldest child, closest child, two children working together?   There are also times where you would like to assign different individuals for the various stages of your life.

The selection of your decision makers, sometimes called Fiduciaries is one of the most important decisions you will make.  Select the correct individuals and things often run smoothly.  Select the unprepared and disaster can strike.

As I work with families there are a few things that I remind them to keep in mind:

  • You have to trust your decision makers.  — It is okay to love a child while not trusting them with your finances
  • Multiple decision makers can complicate matters. — This is the one area that causes the greatest concern. What if they disagree? How do they plan to resolve issues as they arise?

Talk to advisors who are knowledgeable about the ins and outs of naming different decision makers for the different roles.  And remember, you always have the option to name a professional to act on your behalf.

Fun fact:  A fiduciary duty (from Latin fiduciarius, meaning “holding  in trust”; from fides, meaning “faith”, and fiducia, meaning “trust” ) is a legal or ethical relationship of confidence or trust between two or more parties.