Ruth-Ann E. Toups
Why Everyone Needs a Backup
So you picked an executor/trustee/power of attorney, congratulations! Now it’s time to choose at least two backups. My clients often get stuck on backups—formally known as successors—so, why are they necessary? Thinking of one person is difficult enough!
Successors are vital to an effective will, trust, or power of attorney. While your first named agent should be the best person for the job, there is always a chance that person may not be capable or willing to serve when the time comes. If your first choice dies before you, or at the same time as you, or is physically or mentally not capable of serving, or simply chooses not to serve, it is important to have successors. That’s right, even if the person is living and able to serve there is no requirement that they do so.
You should name at least one, ideally two, successors on all of your documents. If you fail to name a successor, and your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve, it is likely a court intervention will be necessary. Without a named successor it is unclear who is able to legally act. Someone you would not want acting on your behalf could be named your successor. This is time consuming, expensive, and frustrating for your loved ones.
If you are struggling to chose a successor, read our blog about how to choose someone to act on your behalf. You may also want to consider using a corporate trustee. No matter who you choose, remember that we all need a backup.