Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Lemon said that the “two most important things in life are good friends and a strong bullpen.”
Lemon was a great pitcher and not an estate planning attorney. However, he may have been onto something, especially when it comes to choosing someone to handle your financial matters in the event of your incapacity or death.
You want to make sure that you have a strong bullpen when it comes to managing your finances should you become incapacitated, administering your estate at your passing and then distributing what is left to your ultimate beneficiaries as you direct. The same person is often appointed to be responsible for all of this managing, administering and distributing. But who should that person be?
The Usual Lineup
The first people who we ordinarily consider are those closest to us – our own family members. As you go through life, this lineup can include parents, relatives, spouses and adult children.
Family members are the natural choices for a variety of reasons. After all, they know and care about you and your immediate family. What they lack in legal, financial and tax expertise, they may make up for with integrity and common sense. In short, they will not steal from you and yours, and they will know when to get professional assistance to carry out their duties.
On the downside, you may not have any family members with integrity and common sense. Even if they do, will they have the time required to ultimately fulfill all of the legal, financial and tax responsibilities? This is a lot to ask of someone and it can also change family relationships. If Uncle Bob must refuse his nephew’s request to purchase a shiny red sports car, then that can change their family relationship forever. Uncle Bob could also become incapacitated or die himself.
Consider Professional Help
If the downsides of having family members as your financial backups outweigh the upsides, perhaps you might consider going with a professional. Some accountants and attorneys may serve in the managing, administering and distributing roles. Corporate trustees are another alternative.
One of the main advantages is their “independence” from family relationships and emotions. A third-party professional will follow your estate planning instructions and have no hesitancy when it comes to denying the request for a shiny red sports car.
However, a non-family member professional will be on the clock and time is money. Nevertheless, the services provided for a price by the professional would still need to be provided by a family member or someone they hired. In the end, the professional might just be the “closer” you need in your bullpen to ensure victory in late inning play.
Double Team Approach
Alternatively, when it comes to the “bullpen” that manages your finances, administers your estate and distributes the inheritance, consider combining the trusted family member with the competent expertise of a professional third-party. That way your family member can see to matters of the heart, while the professional minds the legal, financial and tax matters.
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