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More Guidance for Preparing a Will

Good for you! You’ve started or are considering starting your will. Thanks to Daniel and Arin at Epilogue, here is some bite-sized wisdom on how to go about naming individuals in your will beyond guardians. You can read the full wisdom, including advice on selecting guardians here.

Executors: 

An executor is someone who implements the will and manages your estate. Know that no matter who you choose, that person can hire accountants and lawyers to help, which is paid for with the estate’s money. The straightforward choice is to choose a spouse, especially if they are the sole beneficiary of the property, and there are no business assets involved. Other choices are family or close friends with strong financial knowledge.

Some opt to name multiple executors. However, a key watch out is that this can create conflict as each person has a say. Choose an odd number (i.e. 3) so that stalemates in decision-making are avoided. Pick people you trust and consider the dynamic between those people in addition to your family situation (e.g. excluding certain relatives or leaving things unequally may create conflict should you name a family member as an executor).

Powers of Attorney:

When you make a Power of Attorney for Property, it means that in the event that you are alive but can’t make your own own decisions because of cognitive decline, an accident, etc. the person that you name as your “attorney” will step in to make financial decisions and transact on your behalf to handle banking, bill payment, etc. Seek someone who can balance the needs of family and business and who is financially savvy. Note: even though the person is called your “attorney” this person doesn’t need to be a lawyer!

There is also a Power of Attorney for Personal Care that allows someone to make personal and healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event that you are incapacitated. This includes decisions like moving to an assisted living facility or the decision to have surgery or not. You can choose multiple people to act together, and can also assign alternates who step in to take someone’s place if needed. Often these are parents or spouses for younger adults, and spouses or kids for older adults. But again, if an individual chooses two people who don’t get along or who have wildly different views – it can be problematic.

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