Team Houston: Who Are Your Estate Planning Team Mates?

Baseball - CopyIf a Loved One or you have an estate plan, or even part of one, then some team members already are on board via the planning process and likely are actively serving or are nominated in the documents. They can have roles in the testamentary will, trusts, business purchase agreement, powers of attorney, medical directives or any of the other estate-planning instruments created during life.

Some team members are fee-based professionals, while others can be volunteers. In many instances, not all of the specialties will be required. Your estate planning team should consist of the combination of members that best suits your situation.

The Myrtle Beach (FL) Sun News recently published an article titled “Assembling your team for estate management”which reminds us that one person or a firm can serve in more than one fiduciary or team-member role.

The article suggests these possible team members:

  • Personal representative(s) are nominated in the will and appointed by the probate court when the will is probated. This is the team leader who has the ultimate decision-making power and responsibility for administration of the probate estate.
  • Trustee(s) are in charge of the trust, responsible to carry out its terms, and have ultimate decision-making authority and responsibility for its administration.
  • Guardian(s) are court-appointed persons to provide day-to-day care for a child or a legally incapacitated person, managing and being responsible for his/her personal business.
  • Attorney(s)-in-fact and/or health-care agent(s) have responsibility and authority during a person’s end-of-life.
  • Professional life and property insurance agents who are professionally qualified to handle claims in their fields.
  • Business associates, partners, key employees, even competitors.
  • Funeral director.
  • Late-life caregivers.
  • Spiritual advisers.
  • Financial planner.
  • Tax adviser, if other than the CPA, financial or legal professional.
  • Advisory staff of the client’s long-term-care residential facility.
  • Personal bankers.

A key player on this team is the estate’s attorney. He or she is hired to handle the estate’s legal matters. Estate attorneys are specialized attorneys who practice solely or primarily in estate planning matters. An estate planning attorney can be extremely beneficial in cases where highly sophisticated, specialized expertise is needed. This may often include issues of taxation, evaluation, litigation, international commerce, securities, and commercial real estate transactions. This is also true with trusts and the business interests.

Although we live in the information age, there is sometimes too much information. This can be dangerous. The article gives some wise words of advice for everyone:

Well-meaning publications, websites, helpers and family members can lead you wrong with outdated, jurisdictionally invalid, technically inapplicable information, and inapplicable, superficial generalizations. The guidance of the right professionals in matters that count so seriously in the profoundly serious business of estate planning, preparation and administration always should be the governing resource of choice.

For additional information on building your estate planning team and other elder law topics in Houston, please click here to visit my website.

Reference: The Myrtle Beach (FL) Sun News (April 25, 2015) “Assembling your team for estate management”


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