Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC

Picking the right surrogates for an estate plan

Estate plans in Connecticut can be extremely lengthy and complicated, and it's not uncommon for some plans to have unforeseen calamities just waiting to happen. One of the main sources of problems is surrogates, aka the people assigned to make big decisions for the families. These surrogates can have a big impact on family relationships and overall financial security. Unfortunately, they don't always make choices that are in the best interests of the family.

Surrogates can take many forms, including agents, trustees, executors, agents for funeral decisions, social security representative payees and financial account designees. When two or more of these surrogates are assigned the same responsibility, conflict can arise if there is a lack of communication or serious disagreement among parties. Duties tend to overlap when an estate plan is amended over a long period of time. To solve this problem, plans should be carefully evaluated for conflicts from time to time.

Another problem with surrogates is that they are often not actively aware of their responsibilities. A person who handles certain estate plan duties should be comfortable in their role and knowledgeable about the consequences of their actions. That means they need to be fully qualified in terms of professional abilities and lack of personal conflict. Each person should be carefully evaluated before being given estate responsibilities.

No matter what objectives an individual or family has during the estate planning process, hiring a lawyer who can provide support and guidance is crucial. A big part of an attorney's responsibility is to help their clients pick the right surrogates for each specific duty. The right person should be capable of carrying out their job while understanding the delicate family dynamics at stake. Counsel should always be concerned about protecting the rights of their clients while helping them make these decisions.

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