Who Do I Name? Choosing the Right Person in Estate Planning Documents

When preparing a Will, Trust or Power of Attorney, choosing who to name in different roles of control and decision making is undoubtedly a central priority. Who should I name to handle my affairs? Who do I trust?  Who do I want in control?  Who do I want making investment decisions? Similarly, the questions is often raised, “Should I name the same person in various roles?”  While there is substantial differences among the different roles established by various types of estate planning documents, there remains a constant important consideration of naming the “right” person.  Under a Will, the “personal representative” will be in charge of handling a probate estate.  Under a trust, the “trustee” will likely be charged with handling investments or other property and may have some discretion in distributions to beneficiaries. Under a power of attorney, the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” will often have wide-ranging authority to make decisions on your behalf. Naming the same person for each role can sometimes make good sense—other times it can be problematic.  Understanding the details of each role is critical to selecting the right person to fill that role.