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Who will execute your estate plans?

There are a lot of decisions to make when you and your attorney are doing your estate planning.

Once you have decided what type of documents you need and who will get what, it is time to make another crucial decision -- who will you delegate to make sure your plans are carried out?

What type of delegations will I need to make?

You may need to designate people for one or all of the following depending on what is included in your estate plan:

  • Executor for your will
  • Guardian for your children or dependents
  • Proxy for your health care
  • Power of attorney
  • Trustee if you have a trust

Executor: This person will need to have some financial know-how and probably a lot of patience. Being an executor can be a long process; you may even want to split it between two people with different skill sets. The executor has the responsibility of gathering all of your assets for inventory and distribution, paying any unpaid bills, submitting paperwork such as tax returns or court-related documents and so on.

Guardian: This delegate might be your spouse, family member or a trusted friend. You are appointing a legal guardian who will be providing not just care but education and influence if he or she is raising your children. If you have left money or property to your children, they will also need to be accountable for how they manage those assets.

Health care proxy: This person will be making decisions about medical treatment in the event you are unable to. They could even be making end-of-life decisions for you if you are catastrophically injured. You will want to be sure whoever you delegate knows your wishes.

Power of attorney: When you elect a power of attorney, you have flexibility to decide what rights you are giving this person. You may give them access to your bank account, allow them to make decisions regarding your children or delegate them to pay your bills. There are a number of things you can assign a person to do on your behalf.

Trustee: If you have placed money, items or property in a trust, this person will act as the legal owner. They will take full responsibility for the assets, performing any necessary administration, such as dispersing funds, paying taxes, keeping records and so on.

Source: Fidelity, "Choosing an Executor, Health Care Proxy, & Others," accessed Feb. 02, 2018

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