Naming a helper for your plan is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever have to make, but you don’t have to do it alone. Read on for guidance in choosing your executor, trustee or power of attorney.
Be Careful Who You Choose
I heard another heartbreaking story the other day – an older couple, the man has a terminal illness and he’s worried about his wife after he’s gone. (That part’s normal.) The heartbreaking part is he’s worried because his wife can’t say no to their youngest son (and the son has been named executor because he lives so close by), but the son is taking advantage of his mom financially even while the husband is still alive. The husband is wondering, “What on earth will happen after I’m gone, if he’s already caused this much damage with me keeping an eye on her?”
Every plan needs a good helper. We talk about it ALL the time because it’s vitally important. Everyone will come to a point in their life where they will need some sort of helper, whether that be a power of attorney, a trustee or an executor.
About two years ago we created a paper newsletter with expanded information on choosing good helpers. Even now, we still use it because it’s full of great information. If you’d like a copy of our paper newsletter on choosing good helpers, you can get instant access to it by clicking this link. But if you’d prefer, you can call us at 217-726-9200 and ask us to mail you a copy.
The Secret Test for a Helper
So, what’s the secret test for a named helper? How can you know if you can’t trust a potential helper to make decisions for you when you can’t make decisions yourself?
The secret test of a helper is to look at them and see how they handle their own lives now.
- Are they organized?
- Do they have things “under control”?
- Do they make wise decisions?
- Are they handling their own money well?
- Are they generous and kind?
People will generally handle your money worse than they handle their own. They will generally be more difficult to deal with in serving as your helper than they are in dealing with their own lives. This is just the cold, hard truth that we’ve seen over and over.
Being a helper is stressful (especially since if often happens after a crisis or death), and the stress leads people to act worse than they normally do.
So, however they’re handling things now, they’ll actually do a worse job after you’re gone. Does that give you cause for concern? If so, you should pick a different helper. As you think about someone to be a helper, consider these duties they will possibly help with. And learn more about “7 Types of Helpers to Watch Out For” here.
How Edwards Group Can Help
We help families choose good helpers everyday. This is a difficult decision and one of the most important you’ll ever make. You don’t have to do it alone. We can guide you through the process of deciding who is best. While you’ll only do this once in your lifetime (maybe twice), we’ve helped hundreds of families in the seven years our firm has been solely dedicated to estate planning and elder law. We’ve seen A LOT and gained a lot of wisdom from the families we help on a daily basis. We can help you know what to do and what NOT to do.