In Ohio and elsewhere, estate planning includes making decisions and selections that could prove to be damaging or helpful to the estate administration process, depending on how carefully those decisions are handled. This refers to the all-important process of selecting one's representatives, agents and surrogates to handle various parts of one's estate plan, either during life or after death. Most people engaging in estate planning do not focus on the importance of these choices, but the wrong selections could create bad outcomes for the estate and for one's heirs and beneficiaries.
Some of these selections include a personal representative to probate the estate, an individual to serve as the agent in exercising one's power of attorney, and the exercise of other powers such as a health care authorization to act if one is incapacitated. Other designations or appointments include trustees, agents for financial accounts and those who can exercise payment on death options. In addition, one must select the beneficiaries to inherit life insurance proceeds, retirement benefits and investment accounts.
Because some of these matters may overlap, it is best to go over all prior designations during the estate planning procedure with the attorney to assure that problems of conflicting administration are prevented. Further, problems can arise when an unqualified person is appointed. A family member may not be the best selection to handle a large trust or to probate a substantial estate. The details involved in acting as a power of attorney for one who retains many investments and business interests could be overwhelming for the wrong person.
Therefore, the individual should carefully weigh the factors that may come into play when making these appointments. On occasion, a professional person or financial institution may be a more appropriate selection, but mostly in cases where the estate can afford the high costs of that kind of service. In Ohio as well as elsewhere, having an ongoing relationship with the estate planning attorney is a strong resource to be cultivated for assistance in a variety of estate matters over the years ahead.