The will is the first thing most people think of regarding estate planning. And no estate plan should be without one. But there are two more vital documents that you should also include — and two people who you and your estate may need to count on someday.
We are referring to trusts and powers of attorney. These serve different functions. A trust takes ownership of your assets and helps you pass them onto your loved ones while avoiding probate and estate taxes as much as possible. A power of attorney helps you if you become mentally incapacitated and unable to handle your financial affairs anymore.
Turning to others for help
But both a trust and power of attorney require you to choose somebody to help you. A trust needs a trustee to administer the trust according to the terms you set out. They must manage the assets in the trust in the best interests of the beneficiaries and distribute them to the beneficiaries when the time comes. Meanwhile, the person you designate as your financial power of attorney (called an agent in Georgia) would step in for you to take care of things like paying bills, managing your retirement investments, and selling assets if an illness or injury leaves you incapacitated.
Who should you choose?
These are very important jobs. They both require a skilled, experienced, and dedicated person. Most of all, you must be able to trust the people you name as trustee and agent. Most people select their spouse, child or other family member. But you can choose any adult you believe is right for the job. You can also select more than one person to serve as coagents if you prefer.
If you are not sure who should serve as the trustee to your trust or your power of attorney agent, consider discussing your options with your estate planning attorney.