Making an estate plan in Florida and elsewhere includes the task of choosing a number of agents and surrogates who are called upon to make decisions and take action on one’s behalf when incapacitated or after death. The persons appointed within the potential scope of estate planning can include an agent under a power of attorney or a health care power, trustees, executors, beneficiaries under various accounts, legal instruments and insurance policies, in addition to other surrogates. One problem that arises is the appointment of persons simply because they are family members.
Although family members may be the best choice in many instances, at the same time it is unwise to appoint someone who does not have the skills necessary to carry out future responsibilities. Another problem that occurs is the appointment of surrogates and agents who may end up having overlapping duties and powers. When more than one person has the authority to act on the same subject matter, confusion and even chaos can arise.
Sometimes, individuals are appointed but not told of the appointment until it becomes necessary for them to act. That may be too late because the person may not accept the appointment and the maker may be incapacitated or even deceased. Appointing persons who live a far distance away may also result in unwanted logistical problems. One should also avoid appointing someone who may be conflicted with other beneficiaries of the estate and thus create dissension.
In some cases, a person may want to appoint a professional surrogate or financial institution to handle the task designated. This method brings with it high fees so that it is not suitable for the smaller estate with minimum assets. However, the professional attention to detail may be well worth it in those cases where the estate can afford the expense. Florida offers a wide variety of financial advisers to assist the attorney and the client in the estate planning process. One should only choose an advisor who is certified through a recognized organization or agency, and who is highly educated and qualified.