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How to choose the right people for roles in an estate plan

When a South Carolina resident is creating an estate plan, there are many specifics to consider. For example, it's important to choose the right people for estate planning roles. One common problem is that multiple people may be appointed for responsibilities that overlap. This and other errors may cause conflict.

The many different roles that may exist in association with an estate plan include executor, trustee, agents for financial and medical decisions, agents for funeral decisions, financial account designees, long-term care insurance lapse designee and Social Security representative payee. These multiple and sometimes conflicting roles tend to arise when arrangements are made at different times throughout the estate owner's life. Therefore, one step in revising an estate plan may be to look at these roles and see which ones can be combined.

It is also important to ensure that people are aware of, willing and able to take on the roles they are assigned. For example, the person who has power of attorney to make medical decisions needs to be able to evaluate medical information. Some roles will require varying degrees of legal or financial expertise. It is also important that people who hold roles in an estate plan are able to defuse conflict instead of increasing it.

At minimum, estate owners need a will. The will designates an executor to carry out such duties as distributing assets and paying bills. Some people may also want trusts, but it is important to appoint a trustee who has the time and proper legal and financial understanding. This can be a time-consuming role, and it might be necessary to appoint a professional to take it on. A lawyer can help a client make wise estate planning decisions.

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