Written on May 14, 2013 – 4:59 am | by Elaine Blades
Spring is (finally) in the air and wedding season is upon us. With that bucolic backdrop, I stumbled upon a timely article Popping the Question: Will You be My Bridesmaid? The article discusses how choosing appropriate bridal party members “can sometimes be a hard task for couples” and how you should “consider it an as an honor if you are asked…”. The types of duties bridesmaids, groomsmen, the maid of honor and the best man can expect, are detailed.
Needless to say, the article has nothing to do with “estates”, per se. Nonetheless, I was struck by how most of the (common sense) advice applies equally to the roles of “executor”, “trustee”, “attorney” or “guardian for children”.
We’re told that choosing the appropriate bridesmaids and groomsmen can be a hard task – sometimes complicated by family dynamics. So too can choosing the appropriate executor/trustee/attorney (“fiduciary”). Being asked to be part of a bridal party is generally considered “an honor”. So too is being named as a fiduciary. The role of bridesmaid/groomsmen entails a number of duties and responsibilities – many of a sensitive or personal nature – and can represent a major time commitment. So too does acting as a fiduciary.
Potential bridal party members are encouraged to “seriously consider all that goes into being a bridal party member”, before accepting the role. I would encourage all potential fiduciaries to do the same. Potential bridal party candidates are encouraged to say up front if they don’t think they’ll be able to handle the job, rather than disappoint down the road. I would encourage all potential fiduciaries to do the same.
When considering “what’s involved”, potential fiduciaries should focus not only the list of duties and responsibilities, but also reflect on concerns such as the potential for family conflict and personal liability. Much better to decline the role (or seek professional guidance navigating the duties) than fail to live up to expectations down the road.
So, if preparing/updating your Will and Powers of Attorney is on your spring “to do” list, you are strongly encouraged to choose your executor/attorney wisely – giving due thought to what the role will entail – and to pop the question with your proposed candidate(s). If the question is popped to you, you’re encouraged to look beyond the honor and realistically consider whether you are able and willing to handle the role and meet all expectations.
Whether planning your nuptials or your estate, this common sense approach can help ensure success.