Personal Representatives, Trustees, Powers of Attorney and Guardians
Clients nominate their Personal Representative (formerly "executor") to be responsible for managing their estate through probate. Probate is the process of delivering a Will to the Court and seeking permission from the judge to carry out the wishes of the decedent, including paying creditors and distributing assets to beneficiaries. All of our clients will have a Will.
For some clients, a Trust may be a useful estate planning tool. Not all clients will need a trust and we will discuss the pros/cons with our clients. If needed, clients nominate a Trustee to manage trust assets and make distributions pursuant to the terms of the Trust. Used correctly, a Trust can avoid probate.
A Power of Attorney (or Attorney-in-Fact) is an individual who will act on a client's behalf to make decisions if the client lacks the capacity to make decisions. Clients should have a Power of Attorney for financial matters and one for health care. Clients are not required to select the same person for both roles, although they may.
A Guardian is the person who cares for your minor children if you are unable.
Generally, but not always, spouses name each other as their primary representatives. The decisions regarding who should act as personal representative, trustee and guardian therefore become more important on the death of the surviving spouse.
Give some though as to whom you would nominate to serve in these roles. Take your time and if you change your mind later, it can always be changed in the drafts or even the final documents.
PLEASE INCLUDE FULL LEGAL NAMES FOR ALL PERSONS LISTED.