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3 factors to consider when naming someone to act on your behalf

The probate process can be a confusing, frustrating experience for people who are still grieving the death of a loved one. Selected parties must make decisions on how to distribute assets, how to interpret a decedent's wishes and how to take care of the people and property the person left behind.

As such, it can be crucial for people creating an estate plan to be thoughtful and deliberate when it comes to giving people decision-making authority. Below, we discuss three especially important factors to consider before deciding to allow someone to act for you.

Are they responsible?

In an estate plan, you can appoint someone to make medical and legal decisions for you or care for your children; you can appoint someone to deal with financial distributions, tax issues or debt payments during the probate process

If people in these roles are irresponsible or untrustworthy, they may not do what you want. They could even trigger contentious legal disputes if loved ones challenge their decisions or capabilities.

Are they qualified?

Depending on the role, a person could be dealing with complicated financial or legal paperwork. They could be in control of huge sums of money or in a position to make life-or-death decisions. Considering all that is on the line, a person in these roles should have the legal standing, mental capacity and resources to perform these tasks properly. 

Are they willing to act on your behalf?

Even if you trust someone and believe he or she is qualified to act on your behalf, it is crucial to discuss with that person whether he or she is willing to fill a specific role. If so, you can be confident that he or she will take the responsibility seriously. If not, you can avoid placing a burden on someone by appointing someone else. 

Keeping your appointments current

As this Forbes article reiterates, updating your will from time to time can be crucial in ensuring your appointments stay current and reflect your wishes. If your relationships change or if someone passes away, you should update your will if such an event changes who has permission to act for you.

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