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How to choose the right people for roles in an estate plan

A major problem that many Tennessee residents make when planning for the future is failing to appoint the right people for various roles in their estate plans. These roles could include trustees, executors, powers of attorney and smaller roles including those appointed to manage Social Security payments.

One issue that arises is that these appointments may be haphazard, made over time and include many overlapping responsibilities. Another problem is that some role players might be unaware that they have been appointed until it is time for them to act. These people may not want the responsibility or may live so far away that they cannot execute the duties adequately. A third issue is that they might be the wrong choice for the position. Different roles require different skills and areas of expertise. There could also be conflicts of interest between beneficiaries and the people appointed to these roles.

To avoid these issues, an estate owner should carefully consider who they appoint. For example, the person who makes medical decisions needs to be able to understand information about medical conditions. Others may need financial expertise and the ability to work with financial and legal professionals. In some cases, the right choice might be a professional and a family member working together.

For example, one potential scenario might involve a trust in which a trustee has the discretion to make decisions about when assets are distributed to beneficiaries. If this trustee has a personal or contentious relationship with the beneficiary, that could create conflicts. An estate owner should also communicate their wishes to the people who will act as executor, trustee and in other positions. For example, the person who has the authority to make medical decisions should know what kind of life-saving treatments the estate owner would want or reject.

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