What are the qualifications I should look for in the person who will be in charge of my affairs when I die? Excellent question! Here are the qualifications I always recommend:
- Honesty – even if he or she is not the most intelligent person in your family (they can always get help), they must look out for the concerns of all persons who have an interest in your estate, not their own self-interest. Full and timely disclosure is absolutely necessary.
- Precision – he or she must carefully and precisely carry out the duties imposed upon him or her.
- Having the time to do the job – settling your affairs will take time, and that person’s other responsibilities cannot cause him or her to neglect their duties.
- Willingness to communicate – too often friction arises among family members because those persons not in charge are kept in the dark as to what is happening.
- A desire to keep peace in the family – sometimes this is not possible, but allowing little things to become the subject of a war among family members can result in long-lasting bitterness.
- The ability to resist pressure from one family member – those persons speaking the loudest, or most often, are not necessarily the ones who are acting in the best interests of all concerned. If matters are left to the discretion of the person in charge, the opinions of all persons with an interest in that matter should be sought out and respected.
A discussion with your estate planning attorney about this issue is extremely important.
-Attorney Jack N. Alpern