The selection of the individuals or institutions who will administer your estate plan upon your incapacity or death may be as critical as the design of the plan itself. Because of this, it is critical that your choices for fiduciaries (i.e. successor trustees, agents, executors, and guardians) are thoroughly discussed with your attorney when planning your estate. The following information will assist you in considering your options.
For fiduciaries who will be acting in a financial capacity, there are four important criteria to consider.
- Do you trust them implicitly?
- Do they have the skills and capacity to carry out their duties?
- Do they have the time, and will their location allow them to reasonably carry out their duties?
- Will their selection create friction or conflicts of interest with your heirs?
In addition to family members, close friends, or trusted advisors, in California you also have the option of naming a state-licensed private professional fiduciary who is also bonded to insure you and your heirs against any loss from inappropriate use of trust assets. For large estates, a bank or trust company may also be an appropriate option for certain responsibilities.
For those who will make health care decisions in the event of your incapacity, availability and the emotional strength to deal with the responsibilities are key issues to consider. For guardians who will care for minor children, capacity to take on that role, alignment with your values, and location, especially for older children, are key considerations.