Blog last updated on June 21, 2021.
When you create an estate plan with an attorney or financial advisor, you will be asked to name several people to act on your behalf. In some instances, these people will act during your lifetime, and in others, they will act upon your death. The people — or person — you choose to name as your executor, agent, or surrogate must be someone you trust and whose actions you can depend on.
It’s not unusual for those filling out an estate plan to name people who are closest to them. While this is completely appropriate in some situations, it is not appropriate in all. An estate plan is a legally binding document, and the people named within should be those you trust implicitly. No one should be named in an estate plan in order to prevent hurt feelings ...ever.
If you have questions about who to name, what roles they play, and other aspects of estate planning, consult with an experienced attorney. Van Dyck Law can provide you with a risk-free consultation when you call 609.580.1044 or contact us online.
Types of Surrogates to Consider During Estate Planning
Let’s take a closer look at some of the major potential surrogates:
Agent: This person will act as your power of attorney. You may be giving this person control of your assets or medical care should you become incapacitated. The person you name as an agent is taking on a large, very important, responsibility.
Agent for Funeral Decisions: The person you name as this agent will have control over your funeral when you pass. If you do not name a specific person in your will or estate plan, New Jersey law gives authority to the following people in this order:
- Legal spouse, civil union partner, or registered domestic partner
- Majority of your surviving children who is older than 18
- Your surviving parent(s)
- Majority of your surviving siblings who is older than 18
- Other relatives
- Other interested parties if there are no relatives
Executor: When you pass away, your executor will manage and distribute your estate. This person will be responsible for carrying out the wishes you have expressed in your will and/or other estate planning documents. An executor is also known as a personal representative.
Financial Account Designees: When you open a joint account with another person, you may select an option known as Transfer on Death (TOD). If you become unable to handle the account due to medical or other circumstances, this person can take over. They also stand to inherit the account upon your death without the need to go through probate court.
Long-term Care Insurance Lapse Designee: If your LTC premiums go unpaid, this person will receive a notification. Think of this as its own type of insurance policy. Should you become unable to make payments for an unforeseen reason, someone will be notified and can make arrangements on your behalf. This can prevent the cancellation of coverage.
Social Security Representative Payee: Typically, the government agency will appoint a family member or friend to manage the benefits of a person who is unable to do so on their own. You can, however, request that a person of your choosing be appointed, and that request will be taken under consideration by Social Security.
Trustee: Should you decide to create a trust, you will need to designate someone to have authority over that trust. This person is known as the trustee. The person you choose will have the ability to manage investments, make distributions, and pay taxes associated with the trust.
It’s important to know that you have the option of naming a single person as a surrogate. You also have the option to name a different person for each need. You may trust someone to handle your medical decisions but not your financial ones, for example, and vice versa.
Before you decide who to name as a surrogate, speak to your estate planning attorney. Knowing what each role entails, how they overlap, and how they may conflict is necessary when creating your estate plan.
We Are Your Source for Accurate Information
At Van Dyck Law, we know that creating an estate plan or trust can be a confusing process. There are dozens of terms and legal concepts that you may not understand well enough to create a plan on your own without making detrimental mistakes. Our team is here to help you construct an estate plan that meets your desires and needs. We will speak to you at length about the outcome you wish for should you become incapacitated or pass away.
We will work with you to ensure that your assets are protected and divided as you see fit. When you trust Van Dyck Law with your estate planning needs, you can rest assured that your plan will be as detailed as necessary, and your desires clearly laid out. There will be no question as to how you want your assets taken care of.
Contact us today at (609) 245-5959 to schedule an appointment. We know that estate planning is an essential part of making sure your final wishes are carried out appropriately. We will take our time to explain your options and write a legally binding plan that is in line with your unique situation.