A financial agent is a person that will have the power to step into your shoes and handle financial and legal matters on your behalf. So before considering just anyone to play this role on your behalf, consider the following tips to make the right choice:
1. Think of someone you deeply trust.
First and foremost, you want to name someone trustworthy, organized, and responsible. After all, this person could potentially be handling your financial affairs when you're incapacitated and unable to supervise their actions. They need to be capable of handling day-to-day financial matters such as bill paying and also longer-term economic issues, such as managing your investments. Now, just like you can hire a financial advisor, accountant, and lawyer to provide you with advice, they can seek advice on your behalf. However, you want to name someone you feel has good judgment and will act in your best interests at the end of the day.
2. Will naming co-agents work properly for you?
Many clients ask whether they should consider naming co-agents. If you're thinking about it, here are a few things to ponder: will they communicate effectively with each other and work together and do you trust either to act independently on your behalf? Otherwise, naming co-agents that don't get along is a recipe for fighting and disaster.
They will both have to agree on every action, sign every check or document, and effectively share the responsibility. So if you are considering requiring your co-agents to act jointly, we strongly recommend you discuss this further with your attorney.
3. Decide whether your agent should be local or not.
Is it essential for your agent to be local to where you reside? These days, more and more financial matters can be handled online. So your agent does not need to be local, but it can be helpful. For example, a local agent might be more suitable for seeing your home's maintenance, picking up your mail, handling matters at the DMV, and similar issues.
4. Think about naming your financial agent your executor as well.
You may be wondering how your financial agent relates to your executor. Your financial agent, under your durable power of attorney, only serves on your behalf while you are incapacitated to deal with your stuff. When you die, the durable power of attorney becomes void, and the handling of financial matters will transition to your executor.
For that reason, many clients opt to name the same people as financial agents under their durable power of attorney and executors under their will. The type of person to serve in these roles has many similar responsibilities in both positions.
5. You can name a professional as your agent.
If you're wondering what to do if you don't have any close family members or friends you would entrust with this role, you can consider naming a professional to serve as your agent. If you think a professional may be a better fit for you, you should discuss this further with your attorney, who can help determine whether that's the best fit for you and may be able to recommend a professional that suits your needs.
If you have additional questions or need more guidance in selecting your agents, Carolina Family Estate Planning is here to help families build better lives and plan for a secure future. Call us at (919) 443-3035 today or schedule a needs assessment call with a member of our friendly, professional legal team.