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Carefully choose the agents named in estate planning documents

Whether you reside in Texas or elsewhere, the legal documents that are prepared for estate planning usually require designating your representative, who will administer the duties set forth in each particular legal directive. Thus, a will requires an executor, and a power of attorney requires the appointment of your agent who will exercise the power. A trust requires a trustee to administer the funds. However, for some people the choice of representatives in estate planning can be somewhat problematic.

The choice is easy when the individual is married -- the spouse is usually appointed in the instrument. But a backup plan is usually incorporated into the document in case the spouse has predeceased the individual. In that event, a child or other immediate relative is included as an alternate choice.

However, people tend to get worried about which children to choose. Often, they want to put two or three children in the position so as not to hurt any feelings or ruffle any feathers. This strategy can tend to backfire due to the propensity of siblings to argue over which course of action would have been preferred by the parent.

One solution may be to appoint one child in one legal instrument and another child in a different one. Thus, one child may be best thought of as a general administrator of the estate and may be appointed as the executor or executrix in the simple will. Another child may be most relied upon for choices with respect to medical treatment and can be appointed as the agent in a health care directive or medical power of attorney.

There are of course a legion of other choices and options to consider in your estate planning instruments. These are best handled by consultation with your estate planning attorney and, where applicable, any financial planners who are onboard in your behalf. The general procedure is the same in Texas as in other states, with each state having some variations of local practice.

Source: dailylocal.com, "Planning Ahead: Have a Plan B for estate and long-term care planning", Janet Colliton, Nov. 3, 2014

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